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How can you stand out in a competitive job market?

The Swiss job market has historically been very stable, with an unemployment rate of less than 3.5% since October 2019. However, Covid-19 has hit the global job market hard, and Switzerland hasn’t escaped entirely unscathed. According to Reuters, there were 55% more people out of work in June 2020 than there were in 2020, with the novel coronavirus leaving restaurants and tourist enterprises vulnerable. The Swiss scheme to compensate people working shorter hours to avoid mass layoffs has helped to prevent more widespread damage, however, and we are now seeing green shoots in the local job market. The number of open positions registered with employment agencies more than doubled from May to June, and we continue to see exciting new opportunities open up to professionals. But how can job seekers stand out and secure these roles? Step one: Optimise your LinkedIn In order to stand out in a crowded marketplace, you must make sure you’re easy to be found. Start by looking at your LinkedIn profile and any other professional networking presence you have. Make sure all your recent and relevant work experience is listed in detail, including job titles, key skills, technologies you’ve worked with and any other keywords that recruiters might use to search for you. Take a LinkedIn skills assessment to demonstrate your abilities and add a Verified Skills badge to your profile – research shows that candidates with verified skills are 30% more likely to be hired. Make sure you’ve got a photo uploaded and a title that reflects what you’re looking for and you’re on your way to getting noticed. Step two: Network and make connections Once you’ve polished your online profiles, it’s time to develop your personal brand and do some digital networking. Connect with industry leaders you admire, follow companies and profiles that relate to your sector and don’t be afraid to share your opinions and ideas. You might not quite feel ready to publish your own thought leadership article on LinkedIn, but it’s easy to ask a question of your network or even share a thought-provoking blog. One of the best ways to network online is by joining LinkedIn groups related to your niche – for instance, Life Sciences in Switzerland and Job & Career in Switzerland. And don’t forget to reach out to recruiters and executive search consultants in your industry! Step three: Overhaul your CV Once you’ve found roles to apply to, you’ll want to tailor your CV accordingly. Your CV should act as a snapshot of your career and highlight all your key skills and achievements. Make sure to include any details that might set you apart from another candidate, whether that’s German language skills, recent digital accreditation or success in influencing senior stakeholders. Think of what you’re really proud of and what value you can add in a company, and highlight these in your CV and cover letter. Try to keep your CV to two pages where possible and triple-check it before sending it away, watching out for typos and inconsistencies. Step four: Apply thoughtfully and carefully If you’re looking for new opportunities, it can be tempting to simply send the same version of your CV out far and wide to as many places as possible. However, recruiters and hiring managers will know if you’ve not put any effort into your application. Where possible, tailor your CV or cover letter to the role you’re applying for, matching skills and requirements to those from the job ad. This approach can be more time consuming than a ‘send to all’ strategy, but by showing specifically how your experience aligns with the vacancy, you’ll have a higher chance of progression in the application. Step five: Bring your best self to the interview Whether it’s a video interview or traditional in-person meeting, getting to this stage is a great sign that the company is interested in you. With that in mind, approach the interview with confidence and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Organisations are increasingly looking for cultural and organisational fit, as well as technical and experiential prowess, so it’s important to be yourself at the interview stage. Try to relax and remember that the interviewer will be looking to sell the position, just like you are trying to demonstrate your value. If it’s a good match, then congratulations! If not, continue the above steps until you find a position that suits you. Find your next role with Swisslinx Even in the most competitive job market, our strong industry relationships and understanding our industries means we can offer candidates access to a variety of roles across our recruitment markets. Find out more about being a Swisslinx candidate or view our latest jobs to take your next career step.

What key skills does the modern developer need?

Information technology departments all over the world have been scrambling in the past few months, with many IT professionals suddenly tasked with the daunting role of mobilising a remote workforce, seemingly overnight. Looking ahead, IT spending forecasts suggest there will be ongoing demand for cloud infrastructure services as businesses continue to work remotely, according to Deloitte. The same goes for communication and telecom services and software. And with more companies using online technologies and software than ever before - to work, collaborate and communicate – we're seeing increasing demand for information technology professionals. Working in information technology recruitment, we make it our business to keep a close eye on market trends and skills in demand by employers. Through this, we’ve seen developers continue to be sought out for companies across Switzerland and further afield. If you’re considering your next career step and want to make sure you stand out to potential employers, consider the following key skills that every modern developer needs. Coding languages Developers and programmers must have a firm knowledge of at least one coding language, such as Java, C++, JavaScript or Python. Most software developers in today’s technology landscape will be expected to know JavaScript, which has been ranked as the most popular developer language for seven years in a row. JavaScript is used alongside HTML and CSS for front-end web development. Meanwhile, user-friendly Python is an ideal language for beginner developers to pick up for back-end development and desktop applications, along with C++ and C# for game and mobile development. Whether you’re a skilled java developer or a creative C++ coder, it’s a clear competitive advantage to have deep experience in at least one coding language, and ideally be familiar with others too. Cloud expertise Cloud computing is one of tech’s biggest boom areas now, with companies of all sizes shifting their environments to the cloud for ease of access, cost-saving and scalability. Many programmers and developers will find themselves needing to work with cloud-native applications in the near future, particularly if they’re working in the development fields of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning. There are entire roles devoted to cloud development, where you’ll be expected to have database and programming skills along with Linux and cloud platform expertise, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Service and Google Cloud Platform. Even if you don’t want to become a dedicated cloud developer, it’s still well worth developing some cloud skills to have access to more programming jobs in the future. Flexibility and problem-solving skills The modern developer needs to be reactive and quick on their feet. This is particularly true in the post-Covid landscape, where many organisations are entering ‘sink or swim’ mode and some are completely reinventing their business models and service offerings. The rise in remote work and conferencing platforms and online cashless solutions have contributed to a predicted tech industry increase from US$131bn to US$295bn by 2025. This boom is creating challenges for developers to react to, but also an abundance of opportunities to be innovative and creative. Modern web developers should be agile and curious, always challenging the status quo and prepared to look for new solutions and ideas. Doing so will help to remain relevant in the changing job market and stand out to IT recruitment agencies. Find your next developer job at Swisslinx Swisslinx has deep experience in digital and technology executive recruitment, helping to match brilliant candidates with exceptional companies. If you’re looking for your next programmer or developer role, we’d love to help. View our latest digital and technology jobs here or contact us to see how we can help.

Transferable skills that are essential in the new world

Transferable skills are those capabilities that are relevant across multiple industries and various job roles. Candidates with these widely-applicable skills are more flexible, something which is paramount in an ever-changing job market. The Swiss Skills Shortage Index 2019 reveals engineering, pharmaceuticals, technology and law to be some of the most in-demand job areas but what core abilities are most sought after in today’s recruitment scene? Here are four transferable skills that will ensure you succeed in the new world.   Adaptability Adaptability was listed in LinkedIn’s top five soft skills for 2019 and 2020 has seen this skill jump right the top for many organisations. The pandemic has presented a make or break situation for businesses, but fast-thinking decisions have kept many afloat and have even unlocked new opportunities in uncharted markets. This ability to respond to changes by adjusting priorities and applying new approaches is what makes a team agile and a business resilient. The new world signals an era where adaptability is critical for success in all markets, making it a must-have transferable skill.   Digital Prowess Coronavirus has put a rocket under digitalisation and companies are embracing the transformation. The working from home model went from a growing trend to an absolute necessity for businesses to continue providing their products and services. As such, collaboration software – including Slack, Asana and Google Sheets – became essential tools for keeping the wheels of the workforce spinning, magnifying the need for employees with a certain level of digital prowess. The quickening digital transformation will push companies in every industry to ramp up their search for the top tech talent and ensure they’re future-proofing their workforce.   Honing in on the technology job market, hiring managers are directing their attention towards candidates with software and automation skills. But there’s just as much a shortage of IT skills within this job sector as the wider workforce and the European commission has reported 756,000 vacant ICT jobs across Europe. While the IT skills gap is alarming for hiring managers there’s an opportunity for candidates to set themselves apart in the recruitment process, making digital prowess an invaluable transferable skill.   Emotional Intelligence Emotional intelligence (EI) ‘forms the juncture at which cognition and emotion meet’ and an individual’s level of EI determines many other factors, such as how well they communicate, their ability to empathise and their internal motivation. Not only that, 7 in 10 people who present a high emotional quotient (EQ) actually score better on intelligence tests than those with a high IQ.   With companies now embracing a flexible working pattern, relying on their team to collaborate virtually and remain productive whilst away from the office, employers are recognising how essential it is to have a cohort of emotionally intelligent workers. This soft skill enables employees to read social situations, engage in active listening and willingly accept constructive criticism, all of which makes for a great team player who is indispensable to a company.   Data Analytics Analytical reasoning was another skill listed by LinkedIn as a must-have for 2019 and as with adaptability, the lasting impacts of coronavirus have magnified the need for this hard skill. Data analytics cannot be confined to a few industries - instead it’s become a fundamental process for all businesses striving to stay ahead of the competition. Therefore, to be literate in data has become as important as traditional literacy skills.   Before the outbreak, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated a 30% increase in jobs within big data in just 10 years. Now with more data being produced than ever before, businesses need to harness this information and use it to predict future changes in their market. Hiring managers in all sectors are pursuing employees who have a proven track record of analytical reasoning, who can draw insights from data and can make informed decisions. Those without experience in data analytics should not be discouraged bur rather take the opportunity to upskill and diversify their skillset.   Swisslinx is here to help you navigate the job market At Swisslinx, we offer a tailored service for each of our candidates, taking the time to understand your skillset and career aspirations so we can find the job opportunity that’s perfect for you. Get in touch to hear more about our recruitment process. Or if you’re ready to start applying take a look at jobs in financial services or healthcare and life sciences jobs.

Is gender diversity a problem in Switzerland’s life sciences industry

Unlike other industries, Switzerland’s healthcare and life sciences sector doesn’t have a gender diversity problem; it has a ‘women in leadership positions’ problem. This is an issue globally, with women making up less than 30% of executive directors at the top pharmaceutical firms worldwide. This is despite women making up 65% of the workforce and 80% of the buying and usage decisions, suggesting there is a clear gap between women entering the industry and progressing to its most senior roles. So why does healthcare and life sciences struggle to promote women to its leadership positions, and what more can be done to help? A Swiss – and global - problem Not only do women make up just 30% of C-suite teams, but they also account for only 13% of CEOs within the healthcare industry, according to research by Oliver Wyman. And women who do reach CEO level take three to five years longer than their male counterparts. Looking at Switzerland more specifically, we know that there are enormous obstacles for women who want to juggle a family with a career, with Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter declaring: “You cannot have everything: three children, a seat on the board and a career.” Switzerland’s family policies are conservative compared to many other European countries, with high childcare costs, a lack of paternity leave and few incentives for women to continue working after having children. Progression within healthcare and life sciences While female representation is lacking at the senior level of healthcare and life sciences, similar numbers of men and women enter the workforce with life sciences and medicine degrees. However, the further up the seniority chain you go, the more this representation dwindles, from 33% women in senior leadership positions to 29% at COO level. This prompts the question: where do all the women go in healthcare and life sciences? Some organisations do appear to be addressing this issue. Some of the largest pharmaceuticals companies in the world have appointed female CEOs, including GSK, Biocon and Mylan. Meanwhile, women make up 40% of executive committee members at Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, suggesting green shoots are starting to emerge for women at the top. Why is gender diversity in life sciences so important? Gender diversity is important in every industry, but especially within life sciences and healthcare. For companies to understand the needs of – and produce solutions for – a diverse patient population, they need to reflect this diversity themselves. This is particularly important within R&D. Women and girls bear a bigger burden of disease than men in low-income countries, with many diseases disproportionately or exclusively affecting women. Life science and healthcare companies that understand this and focus on gender diversity and inclusion have a greater chance of meeting those patients’ needs. Within the pharmaceuticals industry, profitability relies on the ability to understand patients. This is demonstrated in the FTSE 350 companies with no women on their executive committee, who only achieve an average of 8.9% net profit margin. Compare this to the companies with 25% female representation at executive level, with average net profit margins of 13.9%, and you’ll see that gender diversity really does lead to better business results. What can we do to improve the outlook for women in this industry? We know that around as many women enter the industry with medical and life science qualifications as men – so how can we ensure they keep progressing within their field? According to a Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey and Lean In, the most significant obstacle women face when trying to progress to senior leadership is the very first step up to management level. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 72 women are, which leaves more women remaining in entry level roles. And while many Swiss life sciences and healthcare firms are contributing to conversations around gender equality, what we need most is more action-driven change. According to the Women Count report, responsibility for this must start at the top down. CEOs should make diversity a business agenda, establishing hard targets for women in senior positions and providing transparent communications to the rest of the business – and industry - about this. Informal mentorships are one of the best ways to promote women in this field, yet many organisations do not pay enough attention to mentorships and sponsorships. Firms that choose to make gender diversity a priority, by establishing clear, concrete goals and providing support and pathways for women, are likely to be the ones who benefit most. How Swisslinx can help As recruiters, we often see an imbalance of men and women applying for senior positions within healthcare and life sciences, particularly in Switzerland. Perhaps related to this, many of our clients are proactively looking for more diverse candidates. Women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men and are 16% less likely to apply to any given job, according to LinkedIn, with women feeling like they need to meet more of the criteria on a job ad than men. There’s clearly a disconnect when it comes to women believing they are qualified for senior level roles, and we’d like to help overcome this. Diversity is important to us at Swisslinx – we're a 75% female team and understand the challenges women face in the Swiss workforce. If you’re considering your next job in healthcare and life sciences, or have a vacancy you’d like to fill, we can help. Find out about our client services or view our latest healthcare and life sciences jobs to get started.

How Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of big data

In the early weeks of coronavirus, all eyes were on how Switzerland’s authorities responded to Covid-19. Several months on and the effects of the virus can now be identified, including how the outbreak has impacted big data.   As the name suggests, big data refers to large collections of information which grow exponentially and are therefore too complex to be stored and processed by traditional software. The term combines both structured – credit card numbers, product names and transaction information - and unstructured data – email messages, video files and imagery – illustrating exactly why big data just keeps getting bigger. Here’s how Covid-19 has boosted the amount of information we generate and accelerated the adoption of big data.   Covid-19 has pushed digitisation in all sectors In 2018, the global big data market was valued at $23.1 billion and it’s predicted to skyrocket up to $79.5 billion by 2024 – which is a CAGR of 25.4%. Covid-19 has amplified this growth by encouraging innovation across the entire digital ecosystem, from big data and AI to cloud computing and IoT. In retail, companies have embraced technology in order to remain relevant and heard by consumers, while the traditional courts have felt the pressure to adopt modern practices - storing evidence in the cloud - to protect the justice system. Just as blockchain technology has enabled the digitisation of the commodities market, big data has facilitated the digitisation of various industries during Covid-19 and even supported growth for the ecommerce market.   More data is being generated than ever before Before the lockdown, when supermarkets, hospitals and car garages were open, people could have as little interaction with digital technologies as they liked. But when social distancing measures were brought in many people were forced to rely on technology to get food to their homes and interact with their doctors online. In every corner of the globe, more people have become reliant on the internet for the most basic of tasks and this has generated an exorbitant amount of data.   The spike in digital interactions is also a result of the increased leisure time people now have. Experts predicted that by 2020 the amount of data generated each second would amount to 1.7MB per person, meaning that each day it would hit a staggering 146,880MB. When this prediction was made, there were 1.25 bitcoins and 3,877,140 Google searches generated each minute, all of which contributed to the growing stocks of big data. Now, with more people spending time online and searching for ways to remain productive in lockdown or information about coronavirus symptoms, the data collections are burgeoning.   How big data will help in the fight against Covid-19 Since the beginning of the pandemic, big data analytics have helped technology professionals provide the healthcare industry and governments with insight into the virus and has enabled app developers to create contact tracing technology that was essential to track the spread. Switzerland was the first country to release a virus tracking app and their swift response has been a large contributor to keeping the infection rate low.   The potential of big data analytics goes beyond tracking coronavirus. The past few months have demonstrated how the sophisticated technology can prove useful right from the point of screening and diagnosing the virus in the early stages, up until developing treatments.     Let Swisslinx help you navigate the job market Our team of consultants are experts in their chosen specialism and well-practiced in providing support throughout the recruitment process and beyond. Whether you’ve got a vacancy to list or you’re searching for your next job we can help. Contact us today to find out more about our services or browse our digital and technology jobs to start your search. 

Why the Swiss job market is banking on blockchain

Switzerland’s strong reputation as bankers, chocolatiers and watchmakers didn’t come about by chance. Their dominance in these markets is a result of a focus on exceptional service and high value products which has earnt them the second highest GDP per capita worldwide. Emerging industries such as blockchain are benefiting from Switzerland’s prominence in the global marketplace and are gaining noticeable momentum. This reputation has enabled the nation’s Crypto Valley to establish itself as blockchain hotspot, attracting 100 new businesses in 2019 and creating over 1,000 jobs. Here are four reasons why the Swiss job market is banking on blockchain.   Blockchain is the answer to our security issues Bitcoin made its entrance in 2008 and questions began flying as to whether the digital currency could be trusted. Enter blockchain, which provided the security to users by recording chains of information about the transaction - but now fast forward to the year 2020 and a new security issue has emerged. Covid-19 has exposed a growing threat to data security, and yet again blockchain technology has stepped up to the mark and exposed a growing demand for blockchain developers and site reliability engineers among other IT professionals. This illustrates how the technology will help protect the global economy and may even be used to prevent crises in the future.   A growing digital token market In 2017, a surge in initial coin offerings (ICOs) led to the hub of token-funded projects in Zug being named Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. An ICO is the most effective way for start-ups to generate investments and for this reason they’re commonly thought of as a source of crowdfunding. While fintech start-ups and other new businesses rely on this method for raising capital, the smart contracts rely on blockchain technology to provide the digital tokens.   Despite the amount of published ICOs flattening after the peak in 2017, there remains a steady number of launches each year and Switzerland just misses out on a medal in the worldwide rankings for capital raised from ICOs, coming in fourth place with an impressive total of $2 billion. Technology professionals can expect their blockchain skills to remain in high demand as Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) and Security Token Offerings (STOs) steal a share of the digital token market.   A government who is backing blockchain Switzerland’s National Council have held back from applying tax laws to digital tokens which is cause for celebration for the cryptocurrency market and in turn for blockchain technology. While the market remains in its infancy, the government will not apply capital gains tax legislation on any earnings and in doing so hopes to encourage more investments. Though this exemption can’t be expected to continue well into the future, it gives ample time for blockchain to put down roots in Swiss soil and establish a strong job market.   In addition, the National Council have announced a legislative package, passing several new laws that are designed to eliminate the legal obstacles that apply to blockchain and distributed ledger technology. This will attract more blockchain start-ups to Switzerland, and professionals with expertise in this field will reap the benefits as the nation asserts its dominance in the global blockchain market.   Working remotely Shortly after the turn of the decade, workplaces around the world had to solve the puzzle of continuing business operations whilst observing social distancing. Thankfully, for companies in the blockchain space, working out the logistics was far easier compared to other industries and moving their teams online has revealed some added benefits such as increased productivity. Now the challenge lies with product managers, technical business analysts and their IT colleagues to master the art of maximising productivity when working from home.   Since the outbreak of coronavirus, Blockchain has proved itself to be an essential and resilient industry, and the Swiss job market’s confidence in the technology will continue to grow as our world continues on the path to digitalisation.   Apply for a role with Swisslinx today Are you banking on blockchain? Our consultants at Swisslinx understand the importance of keeping a keen eye on technology drivers and trends such as blockchain. This deep understanding of the industry enables them to identify the top talent and place these candidates in organisations at every point of the scale – from boutique start-ups to global corporations. View our vacancies in financial services or explore our digital and technology jobs to start your application.

What does the growth of fintech mean for Switzerland's banking market?

According to the IFZ Fintech Study 2020, Swiss fintechs are “beginning to outpace the [traditional] financial companies” and are growing at an annual rate of 7%. As the fintech companies make a name for themselves – particularly in investment management and banking infrastructure – this has raised the question of whether they pose a threat to the long-standing banking institutes.   While it may be true that traditional business models need to be revamped to fit in with the digital world there are many complex financial services that banks offer which fintech companies don’t. Here lies the solution to maximising the growth of fintech while protecting Switzerland’s banks - both markets can prosper when they focus on their unique services. HOW LONG CAN A TRADITIONAL MODEL WORK IN THE DIGITAL WORLD? Switzerland’s banking market attracts a huge amount of international investment, and in 2018 they were said to have $6.5 trillion in assets, which amounts to 25% of all global cross-border finances.   But with fintech companies flooding the market there’s been a wakeup call for traditional banks to apply technology-driven models. This has been answered by Swissquote Bank who have adopted a blockchain infrastructure and integrated robo-advisory. As more banks begin to adapt their functions it will leave those relying on their traditional business model and reputation struggling to keep pace with the digital world. BANKING INFRASTRUCTURE There are many services that the fintech market seamlessly offers - trading in cryptocurrencies, crowd funding and banking infrastructure – that established banks do not compete on. Narrowing in on banking infrastructure, it was found that in 2019 74% of Swiss fintech employees were working in this fintech niche. Banking infrastructure will continue to dominate the Swiss fintech market as financial services move over to the digital sphere – a change accelerate by Covid-19 – and institutions realise their responsibility to seek out systems that protect sensitive data and shield from potential attacks. THE HOME OF THE CRYPTO VALLEY Just as the US has the Silicon Valley in San Francisco, Switzerland has its own hub of fintech activity between Zug and Zurich. Known as the Crypto Valley, this region houses over 800 companies and 4,000 employees - with skills in cryptocurrency and blockchain - who handle the mining, storing, trading and investing of currencies such as Bitcoin. Bitcoin hit the market in 2009 and brought with it fear that digital assets would replace the traditional banking system but as it became clear that the volatile currencies would never be used to pay salaries or to take out mortgages, banks recognised they weren’t a direct threat to their services. THE START-UP SCENE With its world-renowned banking market, it’s no surprise that fintech has been crowned an up and coming star in Switzerland. Despite having a small population, the nation ranks fifth in the world based on their fintech business infrastructure and ecosystem quality, competing with the powerhouses that are the US and the UK. More fintech start-ups are springing up each day in Switzerland and though banks have traditionally been wary of investing in new businesses with little capital and unproven business models, they are beginning to get behind the smaller companies as they recognise their disruptive business models are the future. WORKING TOGETHER AND SIDE BY SIDE While Swiss fintech companies operate in the same realm as the banking market, they provide a distinctly different service and therefore there is an opportunity for the two to work together and benefit from one another. The two markets can collaborate on banking infrastructure and by doing so protect maximise data security and gain more of their trust. Meanwhile, they must continue providing services that the other market doesn’t offer, meaning that banks should direct their resources towards providing complex financial services and fintech companies focus on supplying currencies that are safe from hyperinflation. ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB OPPORTUNITY IN FINANCIAL SERVICES? At Swisslinx, we understand the finance industry is subject to an ever-evolving regulatory landscape and exposed to continuous innovations, so navigating the financial services job market can be challenging. Our team of specialist consultants are constantly updating their knowledge and are sure to keep a keen eye on changes in the market. Browse our financial services jobs to find your next job in fintech, investment banking, wealth management and asset management or insurance.

What impact will open banking have in Switzerland?

Open banking has been a hot topic within global financial sectors for the past few years, with the UK, EU and Australia leading the charge in implementing and embracing the financial services system. In fact, more than 87% of countries worldwide have established some form of Open API in the banking industry – yet Switzerland is not considered to be a leader in this space, but a ‘riser’, thanks to the unregulated nature of the market. But what actually is open banking and what benefits and challenges might it present to the Swiss market? What is open banking and what is it used for? Open banking is defined by the Swiss Banking Association as “the business model based on the standardised and secure exchange of data between the bank and reliable third-party providers”. Using application programming interfaces (APIs), open banking gives these providers access to consumer banking, transaction and other financial data, allowing the networking of accounts and data to provide more insights and services in a secure way. The benefits of open banking are plentiful and apply to consumers, providers and banks themselves. Things like switching between banks, discovering new financial products and receiving tailored advice and insights can all be made easier with open banking, while lenders can use open banking to understand more about their customers to offer bespoke solutions, such as loans or mortage products, as is the case with Mojo Mortgages. Customers can track their spending habits across all their accounts and providers, with the likes of Moneybox and Yolt offering tracking and savings solutions that provide much more detail than traditional banking apps. Open banking will force large, established banks to improve their technology and customer service offerings, competing with startups and fintechs to ultimately usher in a financial landscape that has lower costs, better customer service and more sophisticated technology. What is the resistance to open banking? Despite open banking providing enhanced levels of flexibility and oversight to consumers, it has not been readily adopted in all nations, and Switzerland has been very cautious about implementing it nation-wide. The historically conservative financial centre has been reactive in its approach, waiting to see how initiatives work in other markets and assessing the perceived risks. The shift toward an open data sharing model has led some to raising security concerns, with banks potentially exposed to financial and reputational damage in the event of an unstable system. Regulatory guidelines can help to address these risks and allow supervisory authorities to monitor developments and implement safety measures to protect against fraud and data breaches. Switzerland’s adoption of open banking While open banking could now be described as a global phenomenon, Swiss legislators have responded more slowly and cautiously than pioneers like the UK. The Swiss Bankers Association rejected a proposal for the PSD2 to be adapted for Switzerland, which has encouraged conversation between trade groups about the best way to approach a regulated open banking solution. Because the Swiss parliament has shied away from promoting open banking through regulatory measures, and Switzerland is not legally obligated to transpose European directives – such as a PSD2 – to national law, it’s been left up to financial institutions and other groups to drive open banking forward. There’s a focus on developing a widespread API standard amongst all stakeholders, however with no regulators setting conditions or standards on behalf of the nation, Switzerland lags behind other parts of the world in adopting open banking. We have seen organisations introduce initiatives to develop standards for banks and providers to enter open banking in the country, with the likes of OpenBankingProject.ch and SIX Connectively Platform working to facilitate open banking cooperation and information exchange within banks, fintechs and integration providers. Recently, Credit Suisse and KLARA have emerged as the first partners to be connected via SIX platform b:Link, which allows them to offer additional payment transaction applications to SMEs. This move may signal more adoption of open banking by Swiss companies in the future. With the retail market evolving and new entrants already providing competition to banks, expectations of both financial institutions and customers will continue to increase. As we see the success of open banking overseas, we’ll likely see customers demand more from their providers and have higher expectations of the types of services on offer. To remain competitive and retain their valued customers, Swiss banks and financial institutions may well begin opening their systems to third parties in a proactive move to provide more advanced banking systems, even if regulations do not force them to do so. Stay up to date on the open banking landscape with Swisslinx At Swisslinx, we’re always interested in seeing how the financial services market evolves and embraces innovation, and how our clients and candidates fit in. Find out more about the financial services jobs we have available, or read our blogs for more insights on this and other markets in Switzerland and abroad. 

How has Covid-19 impacted Dubai?

Around the world, countries have been impacted by and responded to Covid-19 in different ways. While Switzerland chose to rely heavily on testing and offered support to businesses, the United Arab Emirates implemented a travel ban, cut interest rates and rolled out a stimulus package. As a travel hub with many expat and temporary workers, Dubai has been presented with unique challenges during the pandemic. Now as individuals and businesses start to recover and now look to the future, what can we expect for the city, and how might the economy recover? Travel plans have changed Dubai came to a standstill in April as the UAE government imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world. Now, the emirate is opening the economy back up, and a significant part of this is travel. As one of the world’s most significant travel hubs, Dubai was heavily impacted by lockdown measures. It's a city reliant on tourism, hospitality and aviation, so the grounding of planes and imposition of strict travel restrictions have had a major effect on the economy. March’s complete halt of passenger flights has contributed to passenger travel through Dubai dropping by a fifth in the first quarter of 2020, though special repatriation flights still operated to ensure travellers and contract workers could return home. The transport and storage sector, which includes aviation, land, air and water transport, made up 18.5% of Dubai’s GDP in 2017 and was its most active economic driver in the first half of 2019, so such a significant halt could be detrimental to the wider economy. However, there is now good news for the aviation and hospitality sectors with the resumption of travel from to and from Dubai by July 7. Airports and national carriers are resuming large-scale operations whilst maintaining strict health and safety measures, which may help to accelerate the predicted economic recovery. We can therefore expect to see more opportunity for investment in the travel and tourism sector over the coming months. Staff consider their options While the UAE did roll out a stimulus package to help its economy in the midst of the pandemic, Dubai hasn’t seen the same level of support that other parts of the world has when it’s come to securing businesses. With no furlough scheme, some employers have been forced to reduce headcount and salaries to ensure survival during and after Covid-19. As the nation is made up largely of expats, many residents are making the decision to return home, and Oxford Economics estimates that the UAE could see 10% of residents leave its shores. However, with job losses and tanking economies an issue worldwide, those in stable industries may choose to stay on in Dubai rather than facing an uncertain future back home. Some nations in the GCC are actively looking to reduce expatriate worker numbers, with Kuwait and Oman looking to fill a higher percentage of key positions with national candidates. As international flights resume and restrictions ease, we anticipate there will be more employment opportunities within the UAE, particularly within the healthcare, distribution and logistics and technology industries. E-commerce is thriving throughout the pandemic, so specialist skillsets in this area will be highly sought after.  Oil and gas take a hit We know that the commodities market has taken a considerable hit in 2020, not just with Covid-19 but with the oil price wars as well. Supply has outweighed demand and we saw storage facilities reach maximum capacity, resulting in a record low oil price that created significant disruption throughout the global industry. However, the past two months have seen the market recover somewhat, and there are predictions that the second half of the year will see oil prices rise back to $50. As lockdowns continue to be lifted around the world and the mobilisation of people and supplies resumes, we hope this sector continues to strengthen and more job opportunities will emerge. Investment shows confidence There are clear signs of opportunity and optimism in the UAE already. One such sign of confidence is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announcing a $20.7 billion energy infrastructure deal with global investors, operators and sovereign wealth and investment funds. It’s one of the largest global energy infrastructure transactions and is positive news for the UAE’s gas market – and indeed, clients and jobseekers. Emiratis are optimistic about an economic recovery, according to Mckinsey, and the relaxation of lockdown rules should speed this up. Dubai has maintained its position as among the top three destinations globally for greenfield foreign direct investment, thanks to its ease of doing business, location and security. This should help the city to recover economically, perhaps more quickly than other areas. Flexibility into the future Through this crisis we’ve seen many clients in Dubai and UAE implement remote working, reducing business travel as much as possible and placing projects on hold. We can expect to see some of this continue long into the future, particularly regarding employer flexibility, potentially creating more opportunities for workers who may not otherwise have been able to work full time in an office location. As 22% of UAE employers say working from home has increased their business’ productivity, many organisations may introduce new remote and flexible working policies to allow employees to work from home on a permanent or part time basis. Unnecessary business travel will likely be reduced or eliminated entirely, with a focus on working – and hiring – locally. That’s not to say there won’t be opportunities for global workers to take up lucrative contracts in the UAE, however. For the right candidate, opportunities will remain. Established in 2007, Swisslinx’s Dubai office is focused on banking and finance, oil and gas, and technology. We have a multilingual team of sector experts who are committed to matching the right candidates with the right roles, providing ongoing support before, during and after the recruitment process. View our latest UAE jobs or contact us to talk about how we can help you.

How have startups pivoted to respond to Covid-19?

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a raft of changes across industries, from home working and virtual business meetings through to social distancing and reorganisation. Beyond the day-to-day of how we’re working, we’ve also seen dramatic changes within some industries as to what we’re working on. One of the most interesting impacts of Covid-19 has been the response of businesses who are trying to not only survive, but also help in the face of a massive global pandemic. Restaurants have moved to online delivery models, fashion labels are manufacturing face masks and life science organisations worldwide are devoting their efforts entirely to finding a vaccine. This is easier for some than others – changing business models and production plans suit organisations that are agile and free from the restrictions that many established large-scale businesses have in place. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at how startups have pivoted in response to Covid-19. What does ‘pivot’ mean? Anyone who’s worked in technology – and particularly the startup world – will be familiar with the pivot. It’s the term given to a change in approach to test a new business model or product, usually after receiving feedback that the original approach is not effective. It’s common in the startup community where entrepreneurs typically follow a lean methodology where everything is questioned – even the purpose of the organisation. Famous organisations that have pivoted include Nintendo, whose previous products have included instant rice and vacuum cleaners, and Twitter, which was once a service called Odeo that allowed people to find and listen to podcasts. Which startups have pivoted as a response to Covid-19? The 2010s saw a huge amount of hype generated over 3D printing, yet the technology has so far seemed somewhat underutilised. Now, however, Covid-19 is presenting new demand for additive manufacturing, thanks largely to the stranglehold China has had on manufacturing personal protective equipment and other products that have been in short supply during the pandemic. When Chinese manufacturing came to a halt during lockdown, startups and other businesses stepped up to use 3D printing to fill the gap, with designs for face shields and medical equipment shared on open source platforms to allow anyone to create these much-needed products. The Middle East and North African market have seen 3D printing startups such as Eon Dental pivot to contribute to the Covid-19 battle, reconfiguring machines and temporarily changing their entire business models. Meanwhile, UAE commodities startup Immensa produces 10,000-12,000 face shields a day to export to Europe, the US and Middle East. Closer to home, Swiss-based fertility tracking organisation Ava Women is researching whether its fertility tracking device can be used to detect early signs of Covid-19. Another life sciences startup, Warsaw Genomics, has moved away from its genetic testing to now offer Covid-19 tests for distribution within Poland’s hospitals, while delivery network Gophr is now delivering pharma, bio-sample and test kids for health services companies. The fintech market is not exempt from virus-driven pivots. Examples include US neobank Moven selling its direct consumer offering to focus entirely on developing financial technology for other banks, and British credit rating startup Credit Kudos launching a tool that allows freelancers to verify their earnings to benefit from the British government’s financial support.  What does this mean for me? These pivots demonstrated the rapidly changing business landscape we are finding ourselves in, and the need for businesses and workers alike to take a flexible, agile approach to the marketplace. While experience in healthcare and life sciences is naturally in demand in the current climate, so too are digital and technology skills to help startups and other businesses pivot and digitalise their offering. If you’re in the market for a new role, we’d love to help. We have deep experience in our specialist markets and are paying close attention to the current market conditions. Contact us to start a conversation about your next steps.

How has Covid-19 heightened the demand for tech and digital skills?

Since the start of the Information Age, the technology industry has grown year-on-year and this trend has only been escalated by Covid-19. The industry is playing a crucial part in the response to coronavirus – helping the healthcare sector track the virus, aiding banks at a time of heightened cyber threats and supporting companies across the globe take their operations online.   Before the outbreak, Europe’s technology industry achieved an annual investment of $34.3 billion, with $1.7 billion of that capital being invested in Swiss companies, therefore, ranking Switzerland in the top five. 2020 looks set to be a promising year for this industry as companies in every corner of the globe become increasingly reliant of technology professionals.   While we only seem to be in the foothills of Covid-19’s impact on the global workforce there are clear trends emerging and tech and digital skills are proving themselves to be more valuable than ever.     The healthcare sector Covid-19 has seen the healthcare and life sciences sector become more dependent on technology. As the spread of the virus continued to pick up pace, companies and governing bodies turned to the one thing that could be shared faster – information.   New apps designed to track Covid-19 using the Apple and Google Exposure Notification API swiftly entered the scene with the first release in Switzerland. The SwissCovid app has been trialled on a voluntary basis and gained backing from 70% of users. Swiss developers are now looking to roll out the app to the Swiss army and medical professionals. This presents an opportunity for developers to offer their coding skills to fight against the virus – or pick up the basics of coding - but it also signals we’ll see mobile apps as solutions to future global problems and therefore drive up the demand for user experience (UX) skills and cross-platform development.   Meanwhile in the US, technology professionals have been pushing their AI skills to new limits to create innovative data platforms that provide information on the availability of hospital beds.   The growing ecommerce industry Covid-19 has not only heightened the demand for tech and digital skills, it has nurtured our developing technology ecosystems. Ecommerce spending was growing at an unstoppable rate well before coronavirus and since it’s unknown when or if things will return to normal many retailers may choose to take their operations entirely online. This $3,535 billion industry will call for more sophisticated websites and high-level digital infrastructure - a challenge for retailers but an interesting opportunity for web developers, software support specialists and even solution architects.   A call for data scientists In a similar way that ecommerce has taken a larger share of the consumer spending pie, banking institutes have resorted to taking their services online too. This ever-increasing digitalisation is generating more data than ever before and causing a swell in data analytics. Employers were already showing an increased interest in data analytic skills, with data science job postings surging by 256% in the last six years, and this demand shows no signs of slowing down. In response to Covid-19, organisations are going face to face with the increasing digital skills gap and actively fostering a digital culture.   The cloud has become more important than ever For many individuals, the introduction of the cloud was the perfect answer to limited storage space, but for organisations, cloud services have proved an essential piece of the remote working puzzle. Within the tech and digital industry, cloud and infrastructure have asserted their dominance as top skills for employees to list on their CVs.   The rising threat to data security Whilst businesses hail the functionalities of cloud services they must also recognise the added threat that cloud storage poses to their documents and data. Databarracks report in their 2019 Data Health Check that from 2016-2019 the number of data loss cases as a result of cyber attacks had almost increased twofold.   Evidently, cybersecurity was already proving to be a rising star in the digital and tech skills sphere but Covid-19 has offered a fast-track ticket to the top. The pandemic is not only bringing new tech and digital skills into the limelight but it’s magnifying the need for larger digital teams, introducing new roles such as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and creating a boom in technology recruitment.     How can Swisslinx help you? Prior to Covid-19, digital and technology was establishing itself as one of our key developing markets and this surge in recruitment activity is only set to increase. We recognise the importance of keeping pace with technology drivers and trends, and our deep understanding of the industry enables us to identify talent from both local and international markets. Contact us to find out how we can help you during the time of heightened demand for tech and digital skills.

How has Covid-19 impacted the commodities market?

The global commodities and natural resources market has had its fair share of highs and lows of late, and like many industries it has not been spared from the damaging impact Covid-19 has had. However, some commodity firms have found themselves weathering the pandemic storm more successfully than those in other sectors, thanks to their experience in handling fluctuations that are so common within this ever-changing industry. While the full impact of Covid-19 on the national and global economy has yet to be revealed, we can already see some clear challenges and opportunities for firms and professionals in this space. Here’s how Covid-19 has impacted the commodities market. Mobilisation and supply chain issues Lockdown conditions all over the world have had a significant impact on the mobilisation of both people and parts over the past months. With many countries imposing strict measures to control the spread of coronavirus – including closing borders, restricting visa supplies and asking people to stay at home – the global commodity supply chain has been significantly impacted. Commodity trading and shipping activity has been impacted, with flow-on effects to freight capacities, rates, speed of processing and delivery time. According to Swissinfo, restrictions have seen activity decreased at ports, although cargo has still been flowing to and from most destinations, albeit at a delayed rate. This is partly due to increased pressure to keep supply chains moving in order to ensure countries have stocks of their required goods. This even extends to Swiss coffee and cocoa reserves – Swiss commodity trading companies have been working with roasters and chocolate makers to ensure federal reserves are maintained. Some firms more stable than others The energy industry – and in particular oil trading companies – already had a rocky start to 2020. The oil price war between USA, Saudi Arabia and Russia saw barrel prices sink to a 17-year low in March, and oil prices even fell below zero in the United States as sellers were forced to pay customers to take unwanted oil. The price war combined with Covid-19 presented enormous challenges for natural resources markets all over the world. Energy prices are expected to be 40% lower than in 2019, according to the World Bank, with the economic slowdown also impacting industrial commodities such as copper and zinc. Interestingly, gold prices have risen as a result of buyers seeking safety in the turbulent financial market. The firms that are weathering this storm the most successfully are those which have sufficient cashflow to enable them to buy gas and oil when the market is down, as well as having the means to stock it. We’re seeing oil trading companies at the forefront of this market turbulence, taking opportunities to profit from price movements. Accustomed to volatility and risk taking, these trading firms are no stranger to uncertain times and may well come through this crisis on top. Firms with assets, refineries and mines are generally perceived to be more stable in the current market than the classic trading shops. Indeed, some European refineries have resumed work after the coronavirus lockdown, adapting their activities according to market changes. This is a positive signal for the industry and jobseekers alike. Meanwhile, Sberbank has just announced a physical commodities trading company in Switzerland, suggesting some firms are faring better than others. As well as stable pockets of the industry, we’ve also seen some jobs experience more stability than others. At Swisslinx, we’ve seen an uplift in the number of risk and compliance roles within the commodities sector, as well as legal functions and trade finance. Technology pushes forward New technologies have been creating innovation within the commodities and natural resources sector for years, and their importance is perhaps now more heightened than ever. We’ve seen calls for increased digitisation of the commodities market to counteract fraud that has blighted the market recently, with suggestions of a digital platform to track the entire logistics lifecycle of transactions. Blockchain technology can help to achieve this, thanks to its focus on privacy preservation. We’ve observed the market move to adopt distributed ledger technology products for commodity trade finance, something innovative Swiss firms have been at the forefront of. Make your next move in commodities and natural resources at Swisslinx At Swisslinx, we have a wealth of knowledge on the global commodities market, with clients across up-mid and downstream organisations across EMEA. Whether you’re an industry professional considering your next career step after Covid-19 or an organisation looking to secure the market’s top talent, we’d love to hear from you. Find out more about our commodities and natural resources function or read more about our client services.

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