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Switzerland's skills snapshot


Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Switzerland’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Switzerland is among the top permorming OECD countries in reading (rank 14), mathematics (rank 8) and science (rank 15).1
  • Does Switzerland invest enough in education and training? Switzerland spent 6% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Swiss citizens undertaking further education? In 2009, 50% of Swiss citizens participated in continuing non-formal education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Switzerland? In 2009, 79% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 21% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? The unemployment rate rose between 2007 and 2011,5 and some 46% of Swiss employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, up from 37% in 2007.6,7

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Switzerland through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 90% of people aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81%.8 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) is above the OECD average at 83% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).9
  • To what extent are Switzerland’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 71.9% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8%.10 

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Switzerland’s youth? The employment rate of Switzerland’s  youth in 2011 was 62.9%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11In 2011, the unemployment rate of Switzerland’s youth was 7.7%, a low rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12
  • Are the qualifications of Switzerland’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 18% of Switzerland’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against OECD average of 25%), and 18% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).13 Over-qualified (under-qualified) workers are those who have a higher (lower) qualification than the most common qualification of all other workers in the same occupation


Key recommendations from the OECD Skills Strategy

A country can develop the relevant skills by encouraging and enabling people to learn throughout life; fostering international mobility of skilled people to fill skills gaps; and promoting cross-border skills policies.

A country can activate the supply of skills by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market.

A country can put skills to effective use by creating a better match between people’s skills and the requirements of their job and increasing the demand for high-level skills.

For more information, see the:

OECD Policy Map on Skills | OECD Skills Strategy | Skills Strategy: Overview


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