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The unseen code: Unlock Switzerland’s female tech potential

This white paper aims to present solutions for solving the talent shortage in the technology sector by attracting a greater share of women to technology professions. By equipping stakeholders with actionable recommendations, it addresses missed opportunities arising from the gender imbalance.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in tech-related professions. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, McKinsey & Company, the Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St. Gallen and digitalswitzerland are releasing the white paper “The unseen code: Unlock Switzerland’s female tech potential”. It serves as strategic guidance for the executives, policymakers, and professionals in the technology industry who are navigating the challenges posed by this shortage, with a specific focus on Switzerland.

Featuring expert insights from leaders in the Swiss technology industry, The white paper highlights the need to address the talent shortage and to enhance Switzerland’s competitiveness by empowering female talents to enter or transition to tech professions: Creating a corporate culture that supports women is crucial, as is retaining talent, promoting career changers, and enabling women to enter the industry in the first place. Additionally, it is important to take measures across company boundaries to address structural factors and make the tech industry more attractive to women.

Find the full white paper here.

As we stand at the crossroads of innovation and progress, it becomes increasingly apparent that the interplay between education, a skilled workforce, and diversity will shape the success of businesses in the future. On 16 January, at the digitalswitzerland Village during the World Economic Forum in Davos, we brought together experts from education, business, and politics to explore practical strategies and innovative approaches to unlock the full-potential of our population and to close the tech talent gap in Switzerland.

Breaking Barriers
Close the talent gap: Women in Tech as the best bet to tackle our skills-shortage.

Breaking Barriers is not just a catchphrase; it’s a call to action in the fast-evolving landscape of technology. As we navigate the challenges of the rising skills-shortage in Switzerland’s tech landscape and at the same time only about 1/5 of the tech workforce are women, it becomes clear that we need to act. In a first-of its kind workshop with all the participants, we collaborated with Dr. Ines Hartmann and Nicole Niedermann from the Competence Centre of Diversity & Inclusion at University of St. Gallen as well as Anna Mattsson, President of Advance and Partner at McKinsey & Company to find out how to bridge the female tech talent gap.

Some key measures that were highlighted include:

Shaping Learning
Delve into the future of learning and find out more about the transformative impact of digital innovation in education.

Moving on from more women in tech, we looked at how technology plays an important role in shaping the way we learn and how it opens up new opportunities, for example with a more personalised learning experience for all. In an insightful impulse speech, Jean-Marc Tassetto, strategic advisor EMEA at Go1 and co-founder of coorpacademy, highlighted the importance of creating learning experiences with the end-user in mind. These learning experiences are not optional, by 2027, nearly 100 million jobs may emerge which are more adapted to the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.

Anat Bar-Gera, Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot, Jean-Marc Tassetto, Dr. Luciana Vaccaro, Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (from left to right).

In an exciting panel discussion, moderated by Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (Dean IMD Asia and Oceania), and with our experts Anat Bar-Gera (Tech investor and board member), Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot (President ETH Zurich), Dr. Luciana Vaccaro (President swissuniversities and rector HES-SO) and Jean-Marc Tassetto, it has become clear that we face an upskilling emergency with new and softer skills becoming the imperative. Universities and companies alike play a crucial role in enabling people to stay up-to-date with state-of-art, personalised learning experiences leveraging the power of technology and at the same time include the skills that are learned best through personal interaction such as collaboration, initiative, empathy, and more.

Re-Thinking Work
Explore the power of human/tech collaborations with corporate foresight and a human centric approach.

Making sure people are appropriately skilled is paramount to prepare for the future of work. In the era of digital transformation, the nature of work is undergoing unprecedented changes. In an insightful impulse speech, Martin Wezowski, Chief Futurist at SAP, highlighted the case for learning how to “surf” and following one’s personal vision, as we need to with the flow and many jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet.

Martin Wezowski, Chief Futurist, SAP.

Following the impulse speech, we took a deep-dive in the discussion with our fantastic guests, Jolanda Grob (Chief People Officer, Zurich), Catrin Hinkel (CEO, Microsoft Switzerland), Prof. Dr. Martin Vetterli (President, EPFL), Martin Wezowski and our moderator Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (Dean, IMD Asia and Oceania). It became paramount to prioritise people and lifelong- / or continuous learning as 50% of the employees will need reskilling in the next years. Looking at innovation through creativity, it becomes clear that it happens more and more through human/technological collaboration.

Prof. Dr. Martin Vetterli, Jolanda Grob, Catrin Hinkel, Martin Wezowski, Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorsk (from left to right).

Inspired to know more and be part of the journey towards mitigating the skills-shortage in tech and ensuring Switzerland is on the right path when it comes to education, skilled workforce and diversity? Let us know your thoughts and find out more about our work here.

The forces of existing STEM initiatives have come together for the first time to form a powerful national umbrella campaign. The aim is to foster interest in young people to pursue STEM training and professions. The national STEM campaign, co-initiated by digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute also counts other partners, including ETH, SAV, and Swissmem and it is carried out in three national languages.

World changing career choices

STEM is part of the solution to face the challenges of the future. This includes exciting work to tackle climate change and health issues. Through pursuing a STEM profession, it’s possible to contribute to make the world a better place through academic activities or apprenticeships.

The advantage of STEM is that it spans a wide variety of professions. It also offers excellent career development opportunities with endless scope for interests. From an ICT perspective, students can learn cybersecurity and data science disciplines. There are also opportunities for a hands-on approach in the areas of civil engineering and infrastructure. When it comes to technology, machine tooling or innovative applied research might be of interest. It’s time to embrace a career path full of possibilities for growth and success.


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Our whitepaper “Empfehlungen für gendersensible MINT-Angebote” (Recommendations for gender-sensitive STEM programmes) is live! Together with Prof. Dr. Bernadette Spieler from the University of Education Zurich, we have the pleasure of publishing this important contribution to the MINT topic. The whitepaper helps organisations and individuals dealing with STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics) to recognise the potential of STEM disciplines.

By 2030, there will be a shortage of 38,700 ICT specialists in Switzerland, as the latest study by ICT-Berufsbildung Schweiz shows. This is despite increased efforts to promote young talent. As the largest contributor, vocational education and training (VET) is the key to meeting the demand for skilled workers. This is because 79 percent of all ICT degrees originate in VET. In order to meet the growing demand for ICT specialists, the apprenticeship quota must be increased from 5.9 to 8.1 percent.

In their study, ICT-Berufsbildung Schweiz explains why the ICT skills shortage has implications not only for the ICT sector but for the Swiss economy as a whole and what we can expect for the future. Further, the organisation proposes additional measures to solve this pressing issue.

Read the full study here in German.

digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute look back at the STEM campaign 2020-2022. A career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has obvious advantages: incredible potential for personal and professional development, good salaries, and a high chance to enter the job market quickly.

From the perspective of many parents, teachers, employers and the entire Swiss economy, young people choosing a STEM-career is a true no-brainer. But how do young people see it? How do they view themselves in this jungle of future professions, career possibilities and technological upheaval? Are we talking to them in the right way, with the right message and purpose?

Together with Pro Juventute, digitalswitzerland tried to answer these questions. We portrayed 12 role models from different sectors and jobs related to the STEM-field, with the aim of enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM. From biotechnologists to ICT-professionals all the way to technicians and electricians, we featured them all. Now we are concluding our video campaign called “Future Skills – die Lösung bist du” / “Future Skills – La solution c’est toi (“Future Skills – the Solution is you”) with the aim of raising awareness and enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM.

Names from left to right, top to bottom: Julia Egger, Margaux Dupuy, Simon Storz, Zoé Weydert, Gabriele Conconi, Matthias Sala, Lola Burion, Chantale Gihara, Florian Baumgartner, Fabrizio Campana, Nina Fuhrer, Chloé Carrière, Zino Zischek, Lia Zischek, Ulrike Pfreundt, Devin Baumann, Mehdi Mesba, Etienne Mifsud, Hanny Weissmüller, Parwiz Rajabi, Emma Neutzler

We want to take this opportunity to reflect back on some key insights and lessons from our journey… 

What did we learn?

1. Show don’t tell

When you want to reach young people, you do not have to explain to them what STEM is; you have to show them, inspire them, tell stories and arouse emotions.

2. Make it relatable

We all prefer stories we can relate to; things that feel or are familiar to us. That applies also to the promotion of STEM-subjects and apprenticeships. If you want to show why being a service technician at Siemens is relatable, talk about the way this job can help to bring down the excessive use of energy in our buildings. If you try to explain the relevance of ICT-professions, show how they can help prevent train accidents, empower women or be of other value to society. The key question remains: what does it have to do with me?

3. Use the power of brevity and emotionality

If you have interesting content, you still need to package it well. It is not enough to have inspiring role models. Your message, if it should reach youth directly, needs to appeal to emotion (visually and content-wise) and have a short but attractive message, to which they can relate. Young people are active and “picky” users – the first few seconds determine if it’s a hit or a miss.

4. Communication channels matter

Don’t forget to entertain! When learning is entertaining, the reach is far greater. Depending on the channel you use, the form of entertainment differs greatly. TikTok and Instagram, prime channels for youth, tend to favour fast-paced and flashy content. Video Mashups with short and punchy messages work best there. Young people often don’t like switching channels. So if you want to reach them on Social Media, make sure all the relevant content is on one platform and is tailored to the audience and the channel. Listicles are effective for Blog formats, more often consumed by parents. On LinkedIn, home of all professionals, content thrives with interesting survey questions or entertaining anecdotes – and don’t forget: those professionals are often parents, too, the most important influence in a child’s career choice.

5. A crucial need is orientation

Among the key needs of youth is orientation. The critical juncture in their lives when they choose a profession is when we can make a difference with good orientation and guidance that doesn’t feel forced and top-down.

6. STEM is versatile and the field is wide open

Another important message and takeaway is that the jobs in STEM are versatile and open to many different personalities and profiles. Increasingly, a more diverse set of young people will enter the STEM-workforce – if we create the right conditions for them by removing barriers and making clear that their skills are valued and needed.

7. Invest time finding and promoting inspiring role models

This one is for the project managers out there: Peers are a great source of orientation and inspiration for young people. However, it is a challenge to find role models that fit all the criteria and that are available and willing to be featured in a campaign video. Creating a message that fits everyone and making the case for STEM is highly context-dependent. Sometimes, topics of gender and inclusion take centre stage. Other times, societal and global challenges like climate change or food security are at the forefront.

8. And remember: “No Man is an island” (John Donne)

Solutions in isolation don’t work. In digitalisation, the crux is that partial solutions have the potential to make the problem of the digital divide worse. Inclusive solutions are the only way forward. Only through a bundled effort can we make an impact that really makes Switzerland future-ready.

Want to know more about the STEM-Campaign and all things related to youth and future skills?

→Watch the full playlist of Future Skills STEM-based videos


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→Discover all of Pro Juventute’s activities.

And if you want to learn more about digitalswitzerland’s programmes in STEM-promotion? Get in touch with

Bern, 26 January 2022 – Many Swiss companies are desperately seeking skilled workers. A targeted amendment to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) is intended to make it easier for foreign graduates of Swiss universities to be employed in Switzerland in areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers. This was made possible by a motion from FDP National Councillor and digitalswitzerland Vice President Marcel Dobler.

Read the press release in German | in French
To the complete statement on the FNIA by digitalswitzerland (available in German)

Media contact:
Andreas W. Kaelin, digitalswitzerland, Bern Office
Phone +41 31 311 62 45 │