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Switzerland ranked third in global IT survey

A skills shortage is looming in the IT sector Keystone

Switzerland has climbed to third place in the World Economic Forum (WEF) information and communication technology annual ranking survey.

This content was published on April 9, 2008 - 13:28

In the so-called Networked Readiness Index (NRI), Switzerland has moved from ninth to third place in three years. Denmark was ranked "the most networked economy" in 2008, followed by Sweden.

The NRI measures the degree of preparation of a nation to participate in and benefit from information and communication technology (ICT) developments.

The WEF report noted that Switzerland's "remarkable performance" in networked readiness seemed to be driven mainly by businesses and individuals rather than by the strength of the government's specific ICT strategy and vision. Switzerland was ranked fifth in last year's report.

"It's true that businesses are using all the new technologies very agressively whereas the public sector is not moving so fast," Markus Fischer of the industry association ICT Switzerland told swissinfo.

"These surveys are useful for our members because a business always has to think of where and when it should invest in new technologies and processes," he added.

The report also said Switzerland's rise in the rankings was based on its strength in the overall environment "as well as a world-class educational system".

Christophe Andreae of the IT umbrella group Groupement Romand de l'Informatique (GRI) was not surprised that Switzerland had performed well in the area of infrastructure.

"We have invested a lot in developing this area in recent years," he said.

"We also have excellent training opportunities for people studying IT, especially with the change to the BA and Masters programmes. There are lots of very good Masters on offer," Andreae told swissinfo.

More students needed

But to take advantage of this strong position, Andreae warned that more young people had to be encouraged to study information and communication technology subjects.

"The number of new students entering higher education IT courses has dropped by half since 2001 and there is a risk that there will soon not be enough new graduates to fill the positions left vacant by retiring workers."

In an effort to address the problem, various players in the Swiss IT sector joined forces to declare 2008 the "Year of IT".

"We have to invest in communicating the idea that there is long-term interesting and rewarding work in this sector," Andreae explained.

More can also be done to improve the skills level in the general population, especially through the use of new technologies in schools, he added.

"Our teachers are not using these technologies and tools even at pre-university level and that's something that can be improved."

Making the most of information and communication technologies requires a life-long effort, according to Fischer.

"Ideally we should be as comfortable with using ICT as we are with driving a car."
 

In brief

Ranking in the Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008:
1. Denmark
2. Sweden
3. Switzerland
4. US
5. Singapore
6. Finland
7. Netherlands
8. Iceland
9. Korea
10. Norway

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The Global Information Technology Report

Since it was first launched in 2001, The Global Information Technology Report has become an important benchmarking tool to determine national ICT strengths and weaknesses, and to evaluate progress.

It highlights the continuing importance of ICT application and development for economic growth.

Published for the seventh consecutive year, the report covers 127 economies.

The Network Readiness Index assesses the environment for ICT offered by a country and the readiness and usage of ICT among the key stakeholders - individuals, business and governments.

The Report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with the international business school INSEAD.

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