Wanted: healthcare workers – but why aren’t these jobs being filled?

Smiling female nurse holding senior woman’s hand. 

Despite improvement, there will still be a significant gap between supply and demand of healthcare staff by 2029 in Switzerland, according to the national 2021 report on future healthcare staff needs, published by the Swiss Health Observatory in September.

The report estimates that by 2029, the personnel demand in the healthcare sector may rise to 222,100. Compared to a base number of 185,600 recorded staff in 2019, an additional number of 36,500 staff will be required. To fill these additional positions, as well as to compensate for those who retire and leave the industry early, presents an enormous challenge to the next generation of health workers. The report further stated these jobs remain difficult to fill mainly due to demographic and epidemiological developments.

The growing need for qualified healthcare professionals is not specific to Switzerland, a trend can be seen around the globe, and it is not a recent trend. Back in 2016, World Bank published the research on Global Health Workforce Labor Market Projections for 2030. It predicts that global health workers’ demand will increase to 80 million, with a supply of 65 million health workers over the same period, resulting in a global shortage of 15 million health workers.

In a previous article, we have also discussed the shortage of healthcare professionals in the Swiss labor market (see Switzerland 2030: The risks and opportunities of digitization). Today, due to the effects of the global pandemic, it might have impacted the situation negatively. The pandemic has brought renewed attention to the frightening shortage of health workers, but remember, this extraordinary situation existed long before the Covid-19.

The same pattern is clearly evident in some other industries and occupations (see Free movement of skilled workers in the EU and beyond are more important than ever), with fewer and fewer young people willing to learn such skills. It is a basic problem and therefore, needs some fundamental changes to effect sustainable action. Share with us your thoughts and let us know your opinion on this topic.