57.2% of female part-time workers either “highly-skilled professionals” or “white-collar” employees
Companies voluntarily hire part-timers
Switzerland’s part-time employment system is grabbing much attention. Since President Park Geunhye’s state visit to Switzerland, there has been a growing call to benchmark against the part-time employment system of Switzerland which boasts female employment rate of 73% and keeps its title as the most competitive economy in the world for a fifth year in a row.
Though a small country with population of just 8 million, Switzerland has one of the highest per capita GDP of $80,000 and remains the most competitive country for five consecutive years according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (Korea ranks 25th). The country’s employment rate is 79.4%, far surpassing that of Korea (64.2%) and the OECD average of 65%. In particular, female employment rate stands at 73.6%, a 20%P higher than Korea’s 53.5%. This suggests that greater female employment results in the improvement of national competitiveness.
President Park took note that part-time employment system is one of driving forces behind the boost in female employment. The system is in line with the Park administration’s goal to achieve “employment rate of 70%.” During her talk with President Didier Burkhalter on January 20, President Park said, “Korea is working hard to adopt part-time employment scheme as well. I believe Korea can draw some significant implications from Switzerland’s case.”
The Swiss part-time system stands out because of the fact that women account for 60% of the entire part-time workforce. OECD statistics shows Switzerland has the highest female part-time employment rate of 59.1%, leading its counterparts in Europe. Also, it is next to the Netherlands in terms of overall share of part-time jobs. According to data published by the Federal Statistical Office (OFS), part-time jobs represent 33% of total jobs in Switzerland as of the end of 2011, a 14%P increase since 2000.
Unlike Korea, Swiss companies voluntarily expanded part-time jobs to address challenges they face due to a decline in working-age population. Also, most part-time jobs offered are “decent jobs.”
In Switzerland, part-time jobs can be categorized into two according to working hours: working hours less than 50% or between 50 and 89% of full-time employment. Except for differences in working hours and wage, the former guarantees the same working conditions as part-time employment. 56% of female part-timers belong to this category.
Another feature of part-time employment is that most workers are highly-skilled professionals or white-collar employees. According to data analyzed by the Korea Labor Institute, 57.2% of female part-timers are highly-skilled professionals or white-collar employees, while only 8.5% are blue-collar workers. Also, most part-timers work in the social service sector such as public administration, education, and public health.
Lastly, what is eye-opening is that Switzerland’s gender gap is the 9th in the world thanks to its high female employment rate, high percentage of women in parliament, and relatively low gender pay gap (19%). There is an equal number of male and female representatives in the Swiss Federal Council, the seven-member council which also includes president.
In contrast, Korea’s gender gap is the 111th in the world with its female employment rate in the bottom and gender pay gap at the top (39%) among OECD members.