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Worker shortfall Ageing population threatens Swiss prosperity, study warns

Elderly man opening taxi car door

Older people want to work but find opportunities limited.

(Christof Schuerpf)

Switzerland must do more to find employment options for older citizens and increase work productivity says the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco). If not, prosperity for all will decline as the population ages.

The median age of the Swiss population has risen to 43 compared to 32 in 1970. By 2060 this will rise further to 48-years-old going by current fertility rates. Increasing immigration would have little effect on this trend, Secoexternal link states in a series of studiesexternal link.

The government department has urged politicians to find more ways to include the older workforce in productive economic activity. Seco also says that work productivity must be raised across all age groups to avoid levels of prosperity from sinking.

Economists have already predicted a shortfall in the labour market of up to half a million jobs by 2030. Deloitte recently released a survey of 1,000 peopleexternal link aged between 50 and 64 that suggested 40% would consider working beyond retirement age – the vast majority full-time.

Willing to work

Deloitte states that just 23% of people aged 65-69 years old currently have employment in Switzerland, below the OECD average of 27%. The consultancy believes that the labour force could be expanded by 578,000 workers if jobs could be found for 40% of people who say they want to work beyond retirement age.

However, most people (30%) surveyed expect their wishes to fall on deaf ears as employers will not want to hire them. Some 46% of retired people in the survey said they were made to stop working even though they wanted to continue.

In Switzerland, the statutory retirement ageexternal link is 65 for men and 64 for women. Earlier this year, the government presented plans to incrementally increase the retirement age of women to 65 while offering incentives for all people to work longer.

This was the latest in a series of plans to save the state pension system from collapsing.

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