The lack of engineers in Switzerland is leading the economy towards a precarious situation: job advertisements remain unanswered for months, engineers are scarce. One of the reasons for this development is the constantly decreasing appeal of the engineering profession resulting in only a small number of students deciding on a technical faculty. How can a brand help a company and the overall economy to increase the number of engineers?
Engineers are in short supply
Engineers are of great importance to the Swiss economy: the driving power for successful development in the past, indispensable for its continuation in the future. The need for engineers in Switzerland has multiplied tenfold in the last 60 years. There has been a lack of engineers for years, which has already inhibited growth in certain industries. Many companies are not able to fill their vacancies adequately. Reasons for the disproportion between supply and demand are, besides the structurally increased demand, also the low numbers of engineering graduates. At the same time, the availability of engineering know-how will be essential to maintain the attractiveness of Switzerland as a location, for economic growth and a positive employment trend in the future.
How to react as a company
Many Swiss industrial companies could use the potential of their brand better in order to win skilled employees and therefore to augment the success of their business. Recent increased awareness for the use of the brand in order to win and retain employees (employer branding) helps companies above all to sharpen their profile as an employer and to set them apart from their competitors in the struggle for the limited human resources. But we need to think even further. Considered economically, the long term goal cannot be for local industrial companies to poach specialists from each other. It would be more promising in the long term if more young people could be inspired to study engineering and choose this career path.
The brand as a signpost for the choice of studies
As an example, let’s imagine this: I am confronted with the decision of what to study. Perhaps I already know that I will choose the arts rather than the technical side, but perhaps I don’t. What happens when I read up on job opportunities and employers by surfing the websites of established Swiss industrial companies? I encounter proud market leaders in their niche areas; outstanding pioneers in specific fields; impressive performances, often with success stories lasting for decades or even longer - in theory, anyway. The reality looks totally different: all too often I come across unemotional, sometimes even seemingly unprofessional material. Uneasiness rather than fascination creeps up on me. Hardly a company brand has enough sparkle to captivate me and give me confidence in my choice for the future, despite there being so much potential. The classic B2B error inevitably comes to mind: brand and emotions are not usually considered relevant.
And that’s why most of the B2B oriented industrial companies often convey an unattractive image of themselves to the outside world. The potential to use the brand’s success stories for the future is not exploited often enough. Either because the basic principles of the brand are not thoroughly examined, or one fails to trust in the communicative strength of the brand and invest in it. Thus one loses not only the potential to convey a positive and worthwhile image of the company to the customers and the employees but also the potential to position oneself as an attractive future employer for students. This is a pity, because by losing engineers Switzerland would lose one of its most important success factors. It is remarkable: today companies proclaim the value “Switzerland” to point out quality and precision and forget that history shows precisely the reverse: Switzerland should point out all these companies which have ultimately given it its reputation. With the decline in numbers of engineers in Switzerland, these qualities could vanish in the long term unless the engineering profession –reinforced if nothing else by more attractive employer brands – becomes more desirable and worthwhile.