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Tired Of Living In A Slow EU Economy? Pack Up And Head To Switzerland!

Simon Evenett is the Academic Director of the St. Gallen MBA. He urges EU citizens who don’t want the austerity measures to affect their careers to take advantage of the resilient Swiss economy

We decided to share this fascinating piece by St. Gallen professor Simon Evenett. Simon Evenett teaches International Trade and Economic Development at the University of St. Gallen. He is also the Academic Director of the St.Gallen MBA. In this article Prof. Evenett makes a clear case for why St. Gallen and Switzerland should be the top EU destination for MBAs who want to escape austerity-burned EU economies. 

Last Friday brought the depressing news that nearly one in four Spaniards are now unemployed. Jobless rates among younger people are nearly 50%. Analysts talk of a “lost generation” but, as one famous Chinese proverb suggests, in adversity there is opportunity.

Educated young talent in the European Union aren’t trapped in their home economies and can take advantage of rights to work in other European nations where job market conditions are better. Indeed, this week’s Economist joins a long list of publications with reports on migration from austerity-torn countries to Germany.

What these reports overlook is that unemployment rates in Switzerland are half that in Germany (3.1% compared to 6.7% in March 2012, the latest month for which the Economist has comparable data available.) Moreover, this is no aberration: Swiss jobless rates have been well below those in Germany for decades.

In addition to very low jobless rates, the Swiss labour market is remarkably diversified. Unlike the UK where the best talent is sucked into various high-end service sector occupations in London, Swiss manufacturing firms have consistently been able to compete with financial companies here for the best talent. With the right network and skills, a wide range of opportunities awaits those graduating from Swiss universities.

Developing such a network is one significant benefit of studying the St. Gallen MBA. Each part-time MBA overlaps with two other cohorts of part time MBAs and two full time MBA cohorts before graduating, yielding a network of some 200-250 contacts. Each full-time MBA can develop up to 150 contacts, one hundred of whom are with part-time MBAs, many of whom work in Switerland and Germany. In addition to part-time and full-time MBAs taking their elective courses together in the St Gallen MBA, in the future we will be strengthening their network building opportunities.

And, on top of this, each MBA student is encouraged to build links with our active MBA alumni community–not to mention that, upon graduating, they join the university-wide alumni community of 20,000 graduates. Those moving to Switzerland for their MBA will have to work hard on developing a network of contacts to get the best employment opportunities–rest assured, though, the foundation is there for anyone wishing to take advantage of it.

While building your network is an integral part of an MBA programme, we don’t let that crowd out the important skills development necessary to compete successfully on the Swiss job market. Swiss employers pay well and they demand a sophisticated skill set - no one should have any illusions about this.

To that end, the St Gallen MBA has evolved this year – and will evolve further next year – to even better prepare MBAs for the Swiss job market. It is possible to fail courses in the St. Gallen MBA (last week I approved some grades doing just that) – there is no point deluding MBAs with the illusion of good performance only to see them fail on the job market.

At the St. Gallen MBA we combine high standards with considerable support systems to enable determined MBAs to improve their skills. Those smart enough to be open to criticism and suggestions will take the most from our extensive personal and career development programme as well as from the core and elective curriculum.

All in all, times may be hard but stimulating careers can still be found within Europe, especially in the German-speaking area. Facilitating effective transitions to Switzerland has been – and will remain – one of the reasons why our MBA programme has been able to attract exceptional talent over the years. The austerity facing much of Europe is a tragedy – but it need not claim your career as one more of its victims.

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