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Student preferences are reverting the impact of Covid-19 – Switzerland

By Gloria Csiszer on 24/05/2022

Which top attributes have drastically changed or turned back to how they were before the pandemics, and what industries must carefully consider to be still attractive?

New learned habits are here to stay when it comes to future careers 

Zurich, May 24, 2022 – This year’s Universum Student Ranking of the most attractive employers in Switzerland shows what students look for when it comes to their careers and the changes that are here to stay after imposed by the two years of pandemics.  

Which top attributes have drastically changed or turned back to how they were before the pandemics, and what industries must carefully consider to be still attractive? 

Switzerland Student Ranking 2022

This year, 10’593 university students in Switzerland participated in the Universum student survey. The study, conducted from October 2021 to March 2022, shows what constructs the new normal.  

Working from home defines a” New Normal”  

Students wish to perpetuate the work habits they developed during the past two years. 61 percent of Swiss students is interested in Remote Work opportunities, with IT being the one study field that considers it the most important opportunity with 80%, followed by Business, with 70%. This requirement from their future careers becomes even more clear when we look at the attributes “Flexible working conditions” and “Encouraging work life balance”, which grew in importance for all main fields of study. Private life is more critical for this generation than for any other generation before, although when looking over all fields of study, gender, or specific age groups, differences can be observed. Male students (62% compared to 60%), and students with 26+ years, tend to require it more with 48% (compared to 32% for 16-21 y.o.) 

WFO ideal number of days vs top concern of WFH 

When it comes to the number of preferred days to work from home versus days spent in the office, Swiss students seem to agree on two days, similar to their neighbouring colleagues in Germany. In general, those aged 26 and over, and IT students tend to prefer less days in the office.  

2022’s survey shows that when it comes to the top concern related to remote work, both students and organisations are very much aligned. Their biggest fear is around isolation and missing out on social connection with co-workers (59%). Being onboarded into an organisation remotely is also not seen effective by 48% of the surveyed students. 

switzerlands most attractive employers 2022

Reverting the impact of Covid-19 

More focus on career can be noticed, compared to last year, where secure and stable options went up. Many employers from the Public Sector, are dropping this year (United Nations, IKRK dropped each 11 positions, after climbing in 2021), this indicating that the changes we’ve observed during the pandemics are starting to reverse.  

Among the best performers this year are many Banks, especially Swiss banks, for example ZKB (9 positions in Business), but also companies in the field of Management and Strategy Consulting or Auditing and Accounting, where we see J.P. Morgan back in top 10, after climbing 6 places. We’ve seen a similar trend in Germany. Business students refocus on established employers within their industries, and on Swiss companies. The biggest climbers for Business students: Emmi (24 positions), Die Post (13 positions), Migros Gruppe (8 positions), Hilti, Buhler Group. 

Established, larger organisations with global operations in big cities are also between the most favoured especially by IT students, followed by Business and Engineering ones. Microsoft climbed 5 positions since last year, making it back to top 10 for Business students. 

For engineering students, ABB is less than 1% of vote behind Google (voted by 17.84% compared to 17.09) and closer than ever to be on the first step of the podium. With 110.000 employees worldwide and a re-focus of its activity, ABB is a crucial flag ship for Switzerland and its economy, along with UBS in the financial service. More surprising this year, is to see UBS ranking 4th most attractive employer amongst Swiss Female students.   

switzerlands most attractive employers 2022

This is a candidate driven market with higher salary expectations  

Students don’t apply that much to jobs anymore. In average, we see a drop between 4-5% in the application rating. Today’s employer branding activities are much more about managing communities than swiping right or left just when we have a recruiting need. The process is going towards a regular open and transparent dialogue with a community of talent that might one day apply a company. And this company needs to capture the talent where they spend their time.  

Most used communication channel is still social media with 62%, with LinkedIn being picked by 59%, followed by the employer’s corporate website, with 47% (decreased from 71% last year). Instagram is growing, when it comes to where students check their future employers. Other interesting findings from our survey show that LinkedIn is one of the most favoured channels for male students, and the French speaking students in Switzerland are heavier users of LinkedIn and Company websites.  

Competitive base salary and high future earnings are the preferences being on top for all fields of study. When asked about their salary expectations, we can see a substantial increase this year, which can also be strongly connected to exiting the pandemics.  

Find the full Universum ranking here:  

If you’re interested in other countries, they can all be found here!