Greater Zurich Area Switzerland world leading talent hub

Another year, another occasion for Switzerland to shine when it comes to top talent. In 2023, this tiny Alpine country ranked first, again, in two global reports – The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023 and the IMD World Talent Ranking. It also ranked first in quality of life, according to the most recent Human Development Report from the UN, and managed to retain first place for the 13th consecutive year when it comes to innovation, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 2023 Innovation Index

Discover all rankings

It is the high quality of life in Switzerland that helps to attract – and retain – top talent. And the talent creates innovation - which powers industry and economy, in a synergistic loop creating value for everybody and thus the high quality of life. 

Yes, there is nature – the picturesque Alps, clear lakes, and postcard-pretty hills with grazing cows. But this nature wouldn’t have stayed this pristine, and the air wouldn’t have been that clean, were it not for the government's efforts, decade after decade, ensuring the country’s economic development in parallel with environmental conservation and commitment to sustainability. 

These aspects attract top global talent as well as multinationals, drawn by the business-friendly culture of political stability and legal transparency, commitment to intellectual property protection, and free-market principles. Global companies establish their presence here and tap into the vast pool of professionals, enabling them to develop further and, in a synergistic way, contribute to Swiss society and to Europe. As for domestic companies, the country’s strong export business focus is the driving force when it comes to innovation, ensuring that they are competitive globally.

Tap into the global talent hub

Tap into the global talent hub

Are you looking for a location with a broad and diverse availability of highly-qualified employees? 

Access to highly skilled talent and specialists is one of the most important success factors for companies and plays a key role in location decisions. Switzerland, particularly the Greater Zurich Area, is the world's most appealing location for attracting, retaining, and developing talent. 

Teaser Global Talent Index

Investing in and nurturing future talent 

Overall, it’s been a strategic combination of policies. A stable economy is one; then, a world-class education system and mandatory health insurance enable access to top-notch medical services. 

In addition to paying attention to sustainability, the Swiss are also very conscious of work-life balance and value their personal time, as well as adequate social support and emphasis on safety and security. Add to the mix the importance of diversity and inclusion nationwide, and you’ve got great conditions for life satisfaction and professional growth.

Kids growing up here have access to top-quality education pretty much from the very beginning in a system that allows everyone to grow depending on their individual talents. When they are around 12, they may opt to apply to gymnasium, or Gymi – the academic track of secondary education that gets pupils ready for university. Another option is the unique vocational education and training (VET). Both approaches are excellent for the development of young talent. While Gymi places a lot of focus on intense schoolwork, the VET is a dual-track system that allows teens to combine classroom learning and internships as early as the age of 14. 

When they turn 15, they can decide to do a full-time, 3-year-long apprenticeship, a mix of on-the-job training and theoretical studies at a vocational school. Such early intro to the working world allows young people to enter the workforce seamlessly – and after three to four years, they can still apply to university if they wish. 

There are a lot of universities to choose from. Switzerland has several world-class, top-ranking universities, including ETH Zurich and EPFL, as well as research institutions. Strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related subjects helps this nation nurture highly skilled professionals. Once they graduate, young people enter a job market that offers robust infrastructure and the commitment of the Swiss government to innovation and research in general. Investment in research and development (R&D) is highly prioritised, leading to an an innovation-driven environment where creativity and collaboration thrive.

DeepTech recruiting in Switzerland - gain insights

DeepTech recruiting in Switzerland - gain insights

Want to gain valuable insights into navigating the Swiss and European DeepTech talent market and optimizing recruitment strategies?

In our whitepaper you’ll find key information about 

  • how to unlock global talent, 
  • grow tech teams, 
  • and labor law considerations in Switzerland.
Deep Tech recruiting in Switzerland

Collaboration between industry and academia 

Collaboration is encouraged widely – between academia and industry, be it large companies, startups or spinoffs. Collaboration starts even before students graduate. For example, multinationals like IBM Research and others have programmes that see Master’s and PhD students get degrees following a dual academia-industry system. They dip their toes into the research culture of an industrial organization while still students and may end up on top of the ladder should a vacancy appear at the company when they graduate. 

Programmes like these further amplify the "brain gain" of skilled graduates and established workers from abroad. For over half a century, Zurich Lab, part of IBM Research, has trained thousands of young people via partnerships with local universities. Many have gone on to win awards and lead projects on groundbreaking technologies. Nearly every year, one or more young people at the lab get nominated for MIT's prestigious "35 under 35" Innovators Award. Alain Vaucher, for example, a computational chemist who developed an AI system that puts together a chemical recipe for any molecule, won the award in 2022. 

In a synergistic loop, the top-level experience young people get helps multinationals increase contributions to society – in Switzerland and overall in Europe. And it prompts more global companies to come to the country and tap into this vast reserve of highly skilled professionals. They come and start to appreciate the great work-life balance the Swiss culture offers – and they stay, in the process, helping to solidify the position of this Alpine country as a powerhouse in attracting multinationals and creating, attracting, and retaining individual talents.

Tap into the global talent hub yourself! 

We support you on every step of your expansion journey - all free of charge. 

Reach out today


This article was originally published by World Economic Forum in March 2024 and authored by Alessandro Curioni.

Read WEF article

Global innovation hub over a decade

Global innovation hub over a decade

Switzerland and the Greater Zurich Area in particular are world leaders in research, knowledge, and innovation. The established exchange between academic institutions and the private sector as well as access to highly qualified specialists make the Greater Zurich Area an innovation hub.

Innovation Hotspot Greater Zurich Area