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Switzerland’s largest NFT project unveiled at the start of Swiss Digital Days 2022

5 September marked the kick-off of Swiss Digital Days 2022, which include more than 200 free offers for the population. The big highlight on opening day: the unveiling of a unique, Switzerland-wide crypto-art project in cooperation with Swiss Post. The study “Opportunity costs of the ICT skills shortage”, also published today by digitalswitzerland, once again highlights the importance of the Swiss Digitaltage, as it impressively shows the consequences of the skills shortage on Switzerland’s competitiveness in the medium to long term. To actively address this problem, a substantial part of the Digital Days programme revolves around the promotion of future skills of young talents, for example through the main format “NextGen: Future Skills Labs”.

Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

Read the press conference presentation in German.

Read the study 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 mattia@digitalswitzerland.com

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 │ andreas@digitalswitzerland.com

digitalswitzerland is pleased to present new research conducted by AMOSA (Arbeitsmarktbeobachtung Ostschweiz, Aargau, Zug und Zürich) on career changers who choose to re-skill or upskill in ICT professions. digitalswitzerland concludes that career changers are an important segment of the ICT labour market that need more attention.

The problem of the shortage of skilled workers in ICT professions will not solve itself – new forms of career entry are needed. In this context, career changers are of great importance, as a new publication by AMOSA shows.

In 2020, around 243,000 people were employed in ICT occupations in Switzerland. Since 2010, ICT employment has seen an impressive growth of around 50%, compared to an average growth of only 10% in all non-ICT occupations. Despite this tremendous growth, there is a high demand for ICT professionals.

According to current forecasts by the Institute for Economic Studies (IWSB), the future demand for ICT specialists cannot be met either by immigration or by the Swiss education system. It is clear that lateral entrants are in demand. To create a sustainable path for a successful transition into the growing ICT industry, it is worth taking a look at some key figures.

High proportion of career changers in ICT professions

Career changers in ICT professions are surprisingly common. Only one in three ICT professionals originally started their careers in the same profession. While some of them came from related ICT professions, nearly half of ICT professionals began their careers outside the ICT field.

The significance of these figures can be seen in a direct comparison with other professions, which are also affected by a shortage of skilled workers: Among the 25 occupations with the highest shortage of skilled workers, the proportion of career changers reaches just 37 percentage points. This shows two things: First, ICT is and will remain a sector with a promising future. Second, the doors in ICT are open and the profiles are diverse.

Great variability between ICT professions

Although career mobility in ICT professions is widespread compared to other professions, there are still significant differences between the various ICT professions: Career changes are very common today, for example, among instructors in the field of information technology (proportion of career changers: 93%), managers in the field of ICT services (91%) or technicians for ICT operations and user support (86%). In contrast, graphic and multimedia designers are comparatively more likely to remain in their originally learned profession – only 42% are career changers.

Where do career changers come from?

A striking diversity of original occupations can be observed among career changers. Apart from workers who were initially trained in another ICT occupation, a significant proportion of today’s software and application developers or analysts originally began their careers in related technical fields, for example, as engineers (13%) or electrical installers and mechanics (3%), but also in non-technical occupations as office clerks (3%) or business administration specialists (3%).

Among those now working as ICT operations and user support technicians, transitions from other ICT occupations are common: Many workers originally learned a profession in software and application developers or analysts (10%) or other ICT professionals (8%). However, career changes from non-technical occupations such as office administrator (9%) or salesperson (3%) also occur relatively frequently.

A significant proportion of these occupational changes are transitions from occupations with similar skill levels and require retraining rather than upskilling. But transitions from occupations with lower or higher skill levels are not uncommon either – especially among those who now work as ICT operations and user support technicians. The fact is: with targeted re-skilling or upskilling, new pathways into IT can open up for less qualified employees.

Important factors: gender and age

While older age groups and women are (still) underrepresented in ICT occupations, they are more likely than younger age groups and men to have come to this field from occupations unrelated to the subject.

This is an indication of the urgency of promoting women in STEM fields (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences, technology). This is because women can be recruited for computer science even from professions outside the field: the potential for women to enter the field in Switzerland is therefore high. With targeted support for girls in STEM fields, this potential could be tapped at an earlier stage – turning career changers into entrants.The differences between the age groups can be explained primarily by the fact that older workers have been in the workforce longer and have therefore had more time for reorientation and further training. In addition, the hurdles for career changers may have increased in recent years due to more specific and higher job requirements.

This is why Lifelong learning becomes all the more important. The numbers show: The need is great, but so are the demands. But a career change is feasible.

How is digitalswitzerland supporting Lifelong Learning?

Ensuring a high-performing digital workforce of the future drives our activities. Education and lifelong learning sit at the heart of this. We are committed to offering easily accessible resources in upskilling, reskilling and training. We also work to spotlight the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) when it comes to our future skilled workforce. Supporting learners of all ages is a key commitment of our mission to make Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub.

Offers from digitalswitzerland such as the lifelonglearning.ch platform and the Boost Programme provide the necessary support for this.

More Information on AMOSA and their latest publications can be found here.

Three-quarters of the Swiss population want to improve their digital skills following their experiences with home office, distant learning and online shopping during the Corona pandemic.

For employees, this is also about participating in the digital transformation: Six out of ten respondents to a representative survey expect the Internet and technology to create new jobs. In view of such prospects, the basic attitude toward digitisation remains positive.

The fifth edition of the Oliver Wyman study “Switzerland’s Digital DNA” is published as part of digitalswitzerland’s Swiss Digital Day.

The digitalisation industry suffered from the crises of 2001 and 2008. In 2020, it is flourishing. Office work becomes remote work. Paper-based processes become online workflows. Factories and supply chains continue to run thanks to automation. We are about to take a 10-year leap into the future. This will shower us with productivity gains. We can even offset our covid costs this way.

Crises require pioneering efforts

In the spring of 2020, a letter from the venture fund Sequoia on the Covid crisis circulated in the tech industry. Memories of the 2001 and 2008 crises resonated. Sequoia suggested: Batten down the hatches. Prepare for the storm. Downsize.

I understand Sequoia’s letter. I lived and worked in Silicon Valley from 1998 to 2007 and through both crises. The dot-com crisis wiped out almost all start-ups in Silicon Valley. Streets and restaurants were empty, similar to the Covid crisis. Then there was the shock of 9/11. I left my employer McKinsey & Co and turned around a company. I lowered the cost base, built a new product and attracted investment.

From this experience, I founded Zattoo in 2005. I picked up the pace. There was a lot of interest in our offering. We expanded. We hired. We were a small sensation.

The financial crisis of 2008 came abruptly. All startups, not just Zattoo, were hit without warning because they didn’t have time to scan the environment for macro threats. Startups are fully occupied with user growth, product design, revenue growth and building the organisation.

Since there was no more venture capital available in the market, I even sold my flat in San Francisco in January 2009 to pay Zattoo’s content bill. The money was sitting between the US and Switzerland for about two months because the banks didn’t trust each other any more. I was able to pledge shares to raise cash for the company. I was able to convince Tamedia (now TX Ventures) to come in. With inventiveness and cost discipline, we were finally able to gain a foothold in 2010. Zattoo has since grown organically as an SME by about 20-30% a year.

After overcoming this crisis, I built up Zattoo’s Board of Directors. As president until 2019, I dedicated myself to, among other things, keeping the company crisis-resistant and recognising danger signals in advance. I hoarded cash to be able to help the company in case of an emergency. The TX Group took over the majority in April 2019. I relinquished the presidency. We continue to develop the company together.

When I first heard about Covid in January 2020, I was initially spooked. Memories of 2001 and 2008 flared up. I asked myself: How can Zattoo cope with the impending pandemic? The pandemic could lead the advertising industry to curb, delay, rebook or stop its spending. The cloud systems of Zattoo and the telecom industry were not designed to run autonomously for long periods of time. Even worse developments were conceivable.

I consulted my acquaintances, including an executive from McKinsey & Company China in February 2020. In conversation, we came up with a predicted decline in GDP to -3%, and Swiss GDP actually fell to about -3%.  

It looked even more threatening in the short term, but it recovered during 2020. It recovered because we were able to keep working thanks to digitalisation. There was no need for an emergency programme at Zattoo or many tech companies. On the contrary, the tech industry was booming.

Digitisation as a ray of hope in a dark year of crisis

In the short term, innovations are overrated. The dot-com crisis of 2001 was a crisis of disillusionment, so to speak. In the long term, however, innovations are underestimated. In 2020, thanks to digitalisation, we have just lived through the first crisis in which we were soft-bedded by robots: a moment for the history books.

The economy, education, health, defence, finance, transport and energy were more crisis-resistant in 2020 thanks to digitalisation. Digitalisation is finally in full bloom:

The cloud allows collaborative work on letters, presentations, spreadsheets and more. It relieves us of server administration and provides better load distribution and higher availability than if we administered the servers ourselves.

The cloud is growing rapidly. Office work is increasingly done on Google Docs or with Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud. Privately, over a billion people now use the Apple Cloud. For all loads that are elastic or fluctuating, and for all workpieces that are handled by several actors at the same time, the cloud makes sense.

Zattoo itself offers examples of cloud services: Instead of storing recordings locally, our viewers access our cloud. Ideally, only one master copy is needed of many recordings that would all be the same. This saves money. Our B2B customer base (telecommunications and cable companies) also uses cloud services: instead of feeding TV signals from satellites via so-called headends themselves, they use our cloud service. Out of many thousands of headends in Europe, which all do roughly the same thing, it will ultimately take a handful in the cloud. Since each headend involves an investment of about CHF 10 million and ongoing costs, this saves a lot of money.

Online retail and delivery services are growing strongly and sustainably. Once users have broken old habits, opened a user account and ordered online, it is easy for them to order the pre-configured shopping basket again. Once they have practised the new behaviour, they stick with it. 

Digitisation can offset our covid costs

GDP fell by CHF 25 billion in 2020; it will rise in 2021. A capital injection of CHF 70 billion flowed from the federal treasury. Let’s take this sum as a yardstick and ignore how this money from the economy ends up back in the state, because it will sooner or later. Let’s see if we can make it up in 10 years: That would be CHF 7 billion per year, or 1% of the gross national product in Switzerland of about CHF 700 billion.

This is possible: Assuming 700,000 remote workers, this amounts to CHF 10,000 per capita per year. We can achieve savings in these areas:

For Switzerland, remote working can be the salvation from our graphical constraints. Employees can be geographically distributed throughout Switzerland or abroad. We no longer need to limit recruitment to a 100km radius around the workplace. Remote working opens up a larger pool of candidates for recruitment and promotes diversity and specialization. With remote working, it becomes cheaper to establish a startup in Switzerland.

Remote work increases employee satisfaction. Deloitte-Switzerland studies from 2020 and 2021 show: A majority of employees want to work in a hybrid way and by no means want to give up the benefits of remote working. Employees have lost a considerable amount of time commuting – they no longer want to bear this burden. They enjoy the freedom of working in places with low costs and high quality of life – this opens up new perspectives. They save time through fewer obligatory business trips. Remote work makes it easier for women to re-enter the world of work by allowing them to divide their time between the office and home.

Remote work preferences are not the same across age groups, and they also differ between industries and countries. In Japan, the loss of the “presence culture” is a major challenge. An anecdote from Japan was brought to my attention. A boss had never organised a video conference from home and asked if it would be possible for his assistants to help with this task. This type of work was always done in the office by specialists. For traditional bosses, remote work is a challenge.

The IT sector is a pioneer in remote working – other sectors are following suit

There have been other times: in 2013, the then boss of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, was still trying to get employees away from remote working. “Innovation happens in the pressure cooker of Yahoo’s development centre in Silicon Valley,” is how I would summarize her words. She saw innovation as a contact sport. Innovation is now possible online because the tools of work have improved.

The IT industry is now seizing the opportunity to offer employees attractive working conditions with remote working. It is by far the best prepared for this. Other sectors have also discovered that remote working works. Security is better than feared. So far, no new data has emerged from private banking.

Corona has done more to accelerate the digitalisation of Switzerland than all the digital initiatives we have had so far. From maybe 10’000 remote workers in Switzerland before the Covid crisis, we have made a leap to over 1 million (out of a total workforce of almost 5 million). When we talk about 700’000 remote jobs over the next 10 years, we understand the scale of change. 

The digitalswitzerland initiative, the CH++ science initiative, Open Data Switzerland, the industry association asut and others can help us carry the momentum from covid digitisation. They can contribute to the flourishing of Switzerland with inspiration and know-how transfer.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

We know this: a clever strategy is announced, and we fudge about it because we like it differently. Does our force of habit now nullify the benefits of COVID digitization? Shall we return to box 1?

Let’s start with ourselves. We’ve learned how to organise ourselves in a home office. A zoom room would be ideal. We’ve learned to cook food, plant seeds, bake bread. Ideally, we would have our own garden. We travel more individually, less in groups. A camper would be perfect.

We improvise in the way we teach. An age-appropriate mix of face-to-face and online teaching would be ideal:

We may say to ourselves, “my stock portfolio has gone up, my real estate is worth more now, I don’t need to put up with the new world of work.” Or we’ve been ruined and can’t do it anymore. The Covid crisis is causing older workers in particular to leave the workforce.

For us to reap the benefits of digitalisation, we need to break the habit of returning to old-fashioned offices where we wear headphones to work intently. Instead, let’s reinvent offices and embrace the remote working opportunity that served us well during the Covid crisis.

About Bea Knecht

Bea Knecht digitalises media services with her start-ups Zattoo, Genistat and Levuro. Genistat employs experts in media data science. Levuro employs experts in social media engagement. Wingman is a VC fund she supports: By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs. Bea Knecht serves on the boards of the Society for Marketing and CH++ and is a member of the Federal Media Commission. She is a recipient of the IAB Lifetime Award, the Best of Swiss Web Award and the Emmy Award.

Continuing education doesn’t just take place in school. Roughly 20 companies have already gifted up to 4 hours of continuing education time per week during the 6 weeks leading up to Digital Day. This is donated time in which new skills can be acquired or existing ones sharpened. Is your company also taking part?

Companies can sign up here to make a symbolic commitment.

At 61.1 years, the average age of older employees in information and communications technology (ICT) is comparatively low. This is the conclusion of a recent study by digitalswitzerland on mobilising the potential of skilled workforce.

Even before the regular retirement age is reached, valuable workforce potential is lost – this must be prevented in view of the high shortage of skilled workers in ICT. The study shows measures that companies and policymakers can take to keep skilled professionals in the workforce longer.