The gates to Indian hearts were opened for the charming Swiss Alps when the Bollywood cult classic by the late filmmaker Yash Chopra was released in the early 90s. The impact of the movie and the many others that followed was so great that even the Swiss Foreign Affairs department considers it as one of the most important phenomenon in Swiss-India cultural ties. Switzerland still remains a dream destination for many Indians even after almost three decades since the original phenomenon.
It is time however, that Indians see Switzerland as more than a dreamy place for vacations as the Swiss market offers an opportunity like never before to the many engineers and technicians of our country. An engineering degree is still a coveted document for lakhs of Indians and India produces enough good quality engineering graduates not only for the Indian market but also to send them around the world and help other markets.
Switzerland could gainfully use more of this kind of manpower. The Swiss Skills Shortage Index, a yearly publication, has been throwing light on how the country's many engineering and other firms could use this kind of manpower.
The machine, electrical engineering and metals industry is the largest industrial employer in Switzerland and one of the country’s leading exports with 31 per cent of total Swiss exports coming from this industry. Tech professionals are, thus, clearly important for the country’s economy. This is to reiterate that the opportunity is not just for India, but for Switzerland as well. To further the point, in a recent webinar conducted by the Swiss embassy in India, Jovan Kurbalija, the head of Geneva Internet Platform and Diplo Foundation, quoted that Switzerland and India have important benefits to reap from a talent partnership.
What is even more important here is that it is not just the highly trained and qualified technology professionals who are in high demand in Switzerland but also technicians like heating, ventilation, and air conditioning specialists along with basic IT professionals who have vacancies waiting for them in the European nation. Such skilled manpower is also in abundance in India and could play a fruitful role in the Swiss economy. Both governments could work to facilitate such ease of movement of manpower to help both countries.
Indians are still more attracted towards the U.S., the U.K., and Australia when it comes to job and education related travel and should be made aware of opportunities that lie elsewhere, Switzerland being a leading example. Beyond this, knowledge of German language, a predominant language in Switzerland, will put Indian workers leaps and bounds ahead of their counterparts when it comes to jobs in Switzerland.
While English is spoken and understood widely in Switzerland, knowledge of local language makes working and assimilation into a new society far less difficult. Promoting short-term German courses and looking at collaboration with institutes like the Max Muller Bhawan can prove to be a game-changer.
What started as a cultural partnership made its way into strategic diplomatic partnership between India and Switzerland with both countries collaborating on numerous bilateral agreements covering a range of areas. Switzerland maintains an extensive network of representations throughout India to facilitate access to the various services it provides for Indian and Swiss nationals, companies, academic partners and cultural actors and Indian administration happens to have a strong presence as well in Switzerland.
One of the areas of future cooperation is a largescale people driven partnership that benefits both economies equally and this tech professional shortage and abundance presents the perfect opportunity for India and Switzerland to further their decades old ties.
This article has been authored by Karishma Sharma.