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Swiss to address lack of local skilled workers

Switzerland must not rely too heavily on immigrants to feed the economy’s demand for skilled workers, according to Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Speaking at the opening of the Swiss Economic Forum in Interlaken on Thursday, Schneider-Ammann said competition from the European Union for skilled workers would become more “acute” with the aging of the population.

He said Switzerland must do more to increase local education levels to ensure the country has enough skilled workers to meet demand.

“In some areas, for example in hospitals, the pool of physicians in Germany is already exhausted,” Schneider-Ammann said. “We must also consider the political fact that a significant proportion of the population is in favour of restricting immigration.”

Schneider-Ammann said he would convene a task force to examine ways to address Switzerland’s skills shortage over the next decade. Measures could include incentives to encourage educated women currently working part-time to take up full-time work, as well as encouraging older people to stay in work longer.

He said the government would continue to monitor the evolution of the strong Swiss franc, but warned that “companies must learn to live – at least in the short to medium term – with a strong franc.”

Also present at the Forum, which concludes on Friday night, are Shell chief executive Shell, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle and US pilot Chesley Sullenberger who successfully landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009.  

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR