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Jobs for Older Workers becoming Fashionable

Senior citizens, for several decades out of fashion in Switzerland, are finding a new demand for their services.

Until recently, it was very difficult to find work after one’s mid-forties and nearly impossible to find work if one came onto the job market past the age of 50. Those who lost their jobs in their late forties or early fifties were often relegated to several years unemployment compensation and then public assistance.

Times have changed, the demography of Switzerland is moving up the age ladder and there are more and more job opportunities for seniors.

Jean-Claude Biver, the Director of Hublot is one of the big champions of hiring seniors – 12% of his company’s workforce is over 65. The arguments for hiring older workers are clear: they bring with them decades of experience. Sociologists and economists tend to agree.

The traditional reasons in Switzerland for the reluctance to hire seniors were related to the high costs in social charges that companies must pay and concerns about seniors being not flexible enough.

These concerns have been swept away in the new demographic reality of scarce qualifications, increasing life-spans, and aging populations. According to demographic projections, the EU population of working age professionals will decline 18% between 2000 and 2050, and the number of people over 65 will rise 60% at the same time. The aging of populations is a problem affecting all of the Occident.

Governments across the developed world have to find ways to maintain their economies and counter the penury of qualified labor and the skill in the marketplace.

The most successful and entrepreneurial companies in Switzerland are now trying to integrate all age groups. Managing a workforce composed of all age groups and job descriptions is a major challenge. For example, when an older worker is retiring, one needs to have already hired a young worker 8 or 9 months previously to permit a knowledge transfer. This is more difficult than it may seem as often retiring workers are not particularly inclined toward training colleagues and young colleagues are not always persuaded of usefulness of information and knowledge from an ‘out of date’ elder.

While the trend is in the process of changing, it is still the case – according to the Federal Office of Statistics – that for those over 50, the unemployment rate skyrockets. It is legal in Switzerland to stipulate an age range for job vacancy or job description. The tendency however, is turning strongly in the favor of seniors as labor shortages accentuate. Economists and government statisticians see a peak in the scarcity of qualified professionals on the job market occurring in 2015.

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