The need for so many new workers will tend to help women enter fields where they have been historically under-represented since there is such a need for so many new workers.
While this synergy of so many different factors is useful for workers at all stages of their careers, it may be that it is especially helpful to new graduates. Highly skilled and qualified senior workers are likely to have more opportunities open to them than are younger workers and so are likely to suffer less during economic downturns. Younger workers, especially those just finishing their undergraduate work, will fare better in an environment that has a range of opportunities and an overall good business climate. In fact, this may be the only kind of business environment in which new graduates will reliably be able to find jobs that match their training and ambitions. This may be especially true for women who can now find their ambitions unbridled.
The strength of the Swiss business climate arises from the nation's traditional force in the banking and financial industries as well as the newer (but still established) science, medical, and technology sectors. The country's business opportunities are also in general strengthened by the fact that the workforce is generally well educated in both business and management skills as well as in technical fields such as pharmaceutical research, software design, and engineering.
It is also helpful to the overall business sector and to new workers in particular that the business world in Switzerland has access to the full range of markets in Europe. (Although the fact that Switzerland has not yet joined -- and shows little interest in joining -- the European Union does limit its access to the markets of other European nations in some measure.) Finally -- and this is of course no small benefit -- the nation is extremely stable politically and culturally, allowing businesses to makes plans for the future with a sense of security that then-current conditions will remain in effect (to the extent that such a sense of predictability and security can ever exist). The following summarizes the overall stability of the country: "Studies on personal security and prosperity, social coherence and political stability have shown that Switzerland regularly leads all international comparisons in this regard."?
The business climate in Switzerland -- and thus in large measure the opportunities for those receiving bachelors' degrees in business -- are being increasingly helped by a lowering of corporate tax rates in Switzerland. Taxes in the nation are higher than in a number of other countries; however, Switzerland's tax rate may be compensated for a number of businesses by the presence of such a well-educated workforce along with stable and well-developed technological, educational, and financial infrastructure.
The following provides an overview of the tax situation (as of last year) in Switzerland. The federal government's (as well as the cantonal governments') decision to move in the direction of lower corporate taxes must be seen as a sign that the country is dedicated to improving the climate for business. Likewise, the fact that taxes remain at a relatively high rate is indicative (although in a less direct way) of the country's dedication to business: By maintaining a healthy tax base, Switzerland is ensuring the long-term conditions that help businesses develop and prosper, something that would not be possible if taxes were slashed. This tax structure allows for numerous start-ups, which may be more welcoming of women into professions than are more established companies. The current strategy (as summarized below) balances short-term and long-term business interests and so opportunities for business program graduates:
The international comparison of corporate tax rates in 2008 again showed Switzerland significantly improving its position. While the median rate for tax on profit (the average of all 26 cantons) was 20.6 per cent in 2007, it is now 19.2 per cent, a reduction of 1.4 percentage points. are showing a significant downward trend, sinking to between 12.7 and 24.2 per cent, with the two cantons with the lowest rate - Obwalden and Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, both at 12.7 per cent - almost catching up with Ireland, which has the lowest rate in Western Europe (12.5 per cent).
Specific Opportunities for Graduates in the Coming Years: The Biotech Sector
While there are opportunities for recent business school graduates in nearly every imaginable field in Switzerland, opportunities are especially plentiful in particular areas. These are the sectors that are the most financially healthy, including a number of fields that are relatively new to the country, such as the biotechnology industry.
The country is home to more than 150 biotech companies that collectively employ close to 15,000 employees. The country has the sixth largest biotech industrial sector in Europe (and the ninth largest in the world). Perhaps even more important than its current ranking, however, is the fact that the Swiss biotech sector is growing faster than that of any other European nation.
There are a number of reasons for Swiss strength in this sector and thus of the numerous opportunities for recent graduates in this arena.
David Syz, the Swiss state secretary of economic affairs, attributed the Swiss dynamism to the existence of "advanced networking between research and industry," "favorable tax conditions" and the availability of "more than 40 incubators and technology parks… Other factors have played a role, Zurcher says, such as the proximity of pharma giants Roche and Novartis, both in Basel, and the presence of universities with strong traditions in science and chemistry. The latter produced a steady stream of new biotech companies long before the sector became fashionable in the late 1990s. Because of these factors, the Swiss biotech sector, Zurcher says, is mature relative to the rest of Europe.
But the take-home lesson for other countries, concludes Zurcher, is "to let entrepreneurs be entrepreneurs right from the beginning." Supporting nice but unworkable ideas with government funds, he says, only serves to prop up weaklings who will ultimately fail."?
The biotech sector in Switzerland is relatively diverse -- an important point for recent graduates to remember. Skills and preferences that may not fit the needs of one company may indeed be welcomed at another. While there are a number of pharmaceutical companies in the country, there are also more general life sciences research centers. This range ensures that there are jobs with wide differences in how much (and what type of) technical skills is needed and on the ways in which technical skill and business acumen may match up. This range of skills may allow women -- who still major in engineering and other technical fields at lower rates than men -- to find their place in high-tech firms.
The recent business graduate may also look to working situations outside of the typical for-profit company given the wealth of opportunities available in research labs and in education (both in terms of universities and trade schools). These jobs would almost always require additional schooling at some point for an individual with a bachelor's degree in business, a point that I have not yet touched on. This should not, however, disqualify anyone who has just finished an undergraduate business degree on an a priori basis. Those who have recently received a bachelor's degree in business science will be attractive to firms in all fields.
This said, I would reiterate that many of the jobs that a recent collegian may aspire to will require additional education at some point -- if not initially -- and so this is an aspect of the professional arc that each graduate must consider. Certainly in Switzerland as in most places, additional education can add considerable opportunities for career growth. Moreover, some companies will make provisions for those with an undergraduate degree only to continue their education with support (sometimes including financial support) as the individual pursues a full-time job. Women especially should be encouraged to continue their education to overcome any prejudice that male managers have in hiring them.
The biotech sector is likely to continue to grow as it has done so even during the current recession and thus should be a serious consideration as a possible career destination for current and recent students. The Swiss Biotech Report this year summarized the continuing growth of this sector:
The Swiss biotech sector continued growing in 2008. Although risk capital proved harder to come by than in the record year of 2007, the sector nonetheless managed to expand by achieving higher sales, licensing new products and starting up new companies & #8230; The latest figures suggest that the biotech sector remains a growth industry. For example, in 2008 Swiss biotech companies generated combined sales of more than CHF 8.7 billion, roughly 7% up on the previous year. Investments in research and development (R&D) by both private and listed companies also rose, totalling CHF 2,070 million (up from CHF 1,755 million in 2007), an increase of 18%.
The trend towards more start-ups of new Swiss biotech companies continued in 2008. There are now…