It's a man’s world – or is it?

Swisscom Job

It's a man’s world – or is it?

Careers in IT are still dominated by men. But the industry is changing, and a huge demand for skilled workers is forcing companies large and small to take action. Swisscom recognised this problem some time ago and is taking responsibility – and not just for itself.

Just 31,600 women were working in the Swiss IT industry in 2018, according to a study(opens in new tab) by the job platform Honeypot. In other words, only 14.5% of IT specialists in Switzerland are female and at a time when the industry is facing major challenges. This is because the demand for IT talent has grown stead-ily in recent years, leading to an expected shortage of more than 35,000 skilled workers in Switzerland by 2028, according to ICT-Berufsbildung, the professional training association for the Swiss IT industry. In addition, the growing demand has meant that salaries in this sector have been rising steadily for years. According to a calculation by the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung(opens in new tab), the median salary of CHF 9,100 per month is higher than in all other industrie.

More than just a stopgap

However, it seems that a high salary alone is not enough to attract more young women to the IT world. After all, even though the number of ICT apprentices has increased by 46% to over 10,000 since 2010, the proportion of women has remained virtually unchanged and has constantly stayed between 11 and 12 percent. It was only last year that this figure rose slightly for the first time since 2010, but only to 13 percent. Whether this change can be attributed to the pandemic and the associated surge in digitisation is very difficult to judge on the basis of the rather small increase. One thing is clear, how-ever: according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)(opens in new tab), in spite of the larger number of apprenticeship positions, there is an unmet need for skilled workers in most IT occupations. Strong indicators of this are, primarily, the large number of job vacancies coupled with low unemployment and the ongoing high level of dependence on newly arrived foreign workers. A recent policy paper(opens in new tab) by the digitalswitzerland initiative also states that the high qualification requirements – and thus the com-paratively high level of specificity of jobs in IT – make the search for suitably qualified specialist staff even more difficult. If the IT industry wants to find a lasting solution to closing the gaps in its skilled workforce in the future, then the industry will have to rely on highly qualified female professionals, because without them it will be almost impossible to meet the demand.

Swisscom is taking responsibility

However, the big tech giants have long since stopped relying on high salaries alone to entice young professionals once they complete their training. They also offer other generous benefits, such as free staff catering, free gyms, flexible working hours or three months of paternity leave. Smaller Swiss com-panies in particular find it very difficult to keep up with these packages. It effectively means that a few large companies are snapping up all the skilled workers, thereby draining the Swiss skilled labour mar-ket. What’s more, the American multinationals in Switzerland may pay well, but they train very few of their own apprentices. This is in stark contrast to Swisscom, where a total of 517 IT apprentices are currently being trained and prepared for the future with hands-on practice.

Of these 500 or so trainees, just over 30% are female. This is encouraging, as the number among young employees is three times higher than for the Group as a whole. In the year 2021, for example, just 11.9% of Swisscom’s IT specialists are female. Compared with other companies, Swisscom is therefore doing relatively well and with a view to the future. This is also confirmed by Samira Bingesser, an IT specialist in her fourth year of training, who gave a good report of her training company: “Swisscom actively promotes women in IT careers.” Samira adds, however, that there needs to be more on offer that is specifically tailored to the female target group. Only if young women understand before they leave school what an important role they have in this system, will they choose a career in the IT sector. And so we can safely say that the IT industry is a man’s world, but it is increasingly revolving around women.

To follow careers in technology. In addition, apprentice Samira Bingesser tells us why she chose a ca-reer in IT, and what she wants to pass on to other young women along the way.

Tobias Frehner

Tobias Frehner

Corporate Journalist

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