Overview: the research strategy of the Swiss Job Market Monitor

Research objectives

The aim of the Swiss Job Market Monitor is to systematically expand scientific knowledge about the job market, and to help improve labour market transparency. The focus is, on the one hand, on continuous monitoring of the Swiss job market, and keeping the general public informed about current developments, and on the other hand on scientific analysis of short-term fluctuations and long-term trends on the job market. The research project concentrates on the following points in particular:

Job market monitoring

  • Highlighting current trends and long-term developments in the volume and structure of job vacancies advertised in print and online
  • Assessing the changing use of different media for the publication of job advertisements

Job market analysis

  • Examining long-term structural trends and short-term cyclical fluctuations in job availability, especially in relation to qualitative shifts in skills requirements in the workplace
  • Explaining connections between job availability and economic, technological, organizational and institutional developments
  • Analysing the significance of job market developments for occupational mobility and the careers of the working population

Key concepts

Job advertisements are a sensitive indicator of the demand for skills

Companies are more likely to use print ads or other kinds of public advertisement as recruitment instruments if they have trouble finding enough staff with adequate qualifications and skills. In the aggregate, the number of job vacancies published gives an indicator of an imbalance – or, more precisely, a demand surplus – on the labour market. This applies to both the labour market as a whole and to specific labour market segments.

Individual skills and qualifications are multi-dimensional

A comparative analysis of skills requirements in the workplace must take into account the fact that the skills profile of potential employees is made up of several elements. Relevant qualifications and skills on the job market encompass not only formal educational qualifications and further education and training for particular occupations, but also additional dimensions such as work experience, specific knowledge and abilities (e.g. language and IT skills), as well as personal competencies, virtues, and character traits (“soft skills”). But ascriptive attributes such as age, gender and nationality also play an important role as recruitment criteria.

Long-term context

Detailed recording of the long-term development of job availability means that current changes can be placed in their historical context and thus better understood. In order to do this we need to both describe long-term trends of structural change, and distinguish these from purely cyclical fluctuations.

Data and method

The data collection aims to representatively capture job availability in Switzerland. The goal here is to survey the number and quality of the positions advertised, and the characteristics of the personnel being sought. As the traditional “gold standard” for staff recruitment, job advertisements in the press are an obvious candidate for long-term monitoring. The advertisements not only reflect the number of jobs available at a given time; the details – which include the skills and qualifications required for the positions advertised – also allow nuanced statements about qualitative changes in staffing requirements in the workplace. As a data source which is easily accessible and available retrospectively over a large time span, press advertisements make it possible to reconstruct long-term processes of change. In the 21st century, the internet is becoming an important channel for staff recruitment, in parallel to and in some cases instead of the press. In order to comprehensively cover the job market today, it is therefore necessary to take into account the vacancies posted on companies’ own websites and on internet-based job portals. Detailed information on the surveys and the data sources used can be found here.