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Swiss graduates take their talents into towns

Urban workplaces are waiting for Swiss graduates Keystone

Over a quarter of Swiss university graduates move from the country into large urban centres once they have received their degree, the Federal Statistics Office says.

This content was published on July 26, 2007 - 18:51

Between 1998 and 2004, rural communes lost around 27 per cent of new graduates, whereas towns and cities gained between 19 per cent and 31 per cent more highly qualified young employees.

The Statistics Office said on Thursday that urban areas acted as magnets because they offered more education and employment possibilities, a richer cultural life and greater individual freedoms.

The study compared where students lived before their studies with their residence one year after they had ended them.

Almost all country areas of Switzerland lost highly qualified potential workers, whereas the big cities - Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva and Lausanne - absorbed an above-average number of graduates.

The regions worst affected by the brain drain were in east and central Switzerland, as well as the mountain areas of Graubünden and Valais.

The central cantons of Appenzell and Uri lost more than 50 per cent of their talented young people.

Also badly hit were canton Thurgau (-43%), Basel Country (-42%), Glarus (-40%) and Graubünden (-30%). In the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino south of the Alps, the drift away was less marked (-8.2%).

Why leave?

The study also examined the reasons why graduates were leaving rural areas and being drawn into cities in large numbers in some parts of Switzerland.

It found that leaving an area depended to a large extent on the state of local economy. In cantons with strong industrial and service sectors, the risk of graduates leaving was reduced by 18 per cent (industry) and 36 per cent (services).

Older graduates were more likely to leave their home cantons, the Statistics Office said in a statement. However, the younger they were at the end of their studies, the more likely they were to stay with their parents.

The Statistics Office noted that older graduates who had already lived away from their parents at the beginning of their studies didn't go back to living with them once they had they received their degrees.

It also found that the absence of specialised higher education establishments in a canton played a key role in the behaviour of young qualified people. The exodus rate of graduates from a canton with a university was 47 per cent less than for those coming from a canton without one.

However, the study found that graduates from specialised higher education establishments – as opposed to universities - tended to stay in their native cantons because their chances of accessing local labour markets were higher.

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Level of education

In Switzerland, 24% of men and 15% of women aged 25-64 had a degree from a university or a higher education institute (figures from 2006).
13.7% of men and 6.2% of women had a higher education.
48.3% of men and 56.1 % of women had vocational training.
13.2% of men and 22.5% of women aged 25-64 did not pursue education after compulsory schooling.

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In brief

The Federal Statistics Office tried to collect information from all graduates of Swiss universities and higher education institutes.

58,000 graduates who graduated in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 received a questionnaire.

60 per cent of those surveyed responded.

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