In December 2020, the number of registered non-employed people was around 40% higher than in the previous year. The service sector was particularly hard hit by a rise in unemployment of +43.9% and within this sector the hospitality industry with +83.6%. The financial and insurance industries were less affected. According to SECO, economic activity plummeted during the pandemic. In the short term, this can be attributed to the decline in exports and the complete closure of some business sectors during the lockdown. In the medium term, however, unemployment plays a larger role.

Strong shifts in the labor market are particularly evident in tourism as well as the arts and culture. These are partly of a short-term nature, as they are due to COVID restrictions. In the long term, however, we must also expect strong upheavals in areas of work in which physical proximity plays a role, for example in the hotel and hospitality industries, in companies with large, open-plan offices or in production facilities. McKinsey sees the following trends for the post-pandemic future of work: More work from home or in hybrid forms, a further increase in online commerce, and greater automation. An increase in the amount of work carried out from home will in turn lead to changes in the hospitality and transportation industries, especially in city centers. Many people will have to retrain in order to find work. This will especially affect workers without a university degree, women, minorities, and young people.

The “work ecosystem” will have to reorganize itself. On the other hand, there are sectors in which there is a shortage of skilled workers. For example, in the field service of insurance companies. Together with the digital recruiter Lionstep and Helvetia, as well as other cooperation partners, the University of St. Gallen (HSG) has launched a project to retrain people who need to change career tracks. In June, around 200 participants will complete a two-week online course. It is aimed at employees from service-oriented professions who would like to switch to field service, customer support or sales. In this way, Helvetia hopes to be able to fill a large proportion of the approximately thirty vacancies in its own sales department. The Amag Group,, Coople and also want to create new career prospects for people changing career tracks, for example as sales consultants.

But flexibility is not only required from employees. When recruiting, companies also need to pay more attention to skills and talents instead of professional experience and traditional degrees. We are convinced that even in challenging times, opportunities arise that simply have to be seized.


Click here to find out more about the Reskilling Sales Program.


Authors: Patricia Widmer, Leiterin der Diversitäts- und Management-Programme an der Executive School der Universität St.Gallen und Beatrix Eugster, Assistenzprofessorin für Disability Economics & Integration

About the author(s)


Executive School of Management, Technology and Law


Get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

Newsletter [EN]

Share article

More articles

  • The Future of Work and the Central Role of Diversity & Inclusion

  • Leadership in Transition: Five Trends of Modern Leadership

  • The future of work – also relevant for the legal market?

  • Why inclusive leadership matters for every generation

  • Do young lawyers need leadership, too? Classification according to generations – slightly arbitrary, but useful