Startling show of hands for English at work: 16.5 percent of the working population uses English!
Also see: editorial by Ellen Wallace
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Four of five people are ready to state a religious affiliation in Switzerland, Catholics with nearly 39 percent remain the largest religious group and more than 15 percent of the population is multilingual with fluency in at least three languages.
For the first time ever, the Swiss census survey shows English as the fourth most frequently spoken language by permanent residents in Switzerland, with 4.5 percent of the population saying they think in English, a language they have mastered.
English is an important Swiss language at home, with 4.1 percent of the population speaking it in the family.
But the most startling language statistic is that English at work was measured clearly for the first time and 16.5 percent of people say they use English regularly at work: 739,000 people out of a working population of 6.52 million.
These are not just foreign residents: 513,775 Swiss use English at school or on the job. Foreigners who use English at work: 166,000 come from the European Union, 14,000 from elsewhere in Europe and 44,000 from outside Europe.
Swiss-German is the most widely spoken language at work, 66.9 percent, with high German lagging at 32.2 percent (but well ahead of high German spoken at home), French 29 percent and Italian 8.8 percent.
Catholics are a majority
The number of people professing no religious affiliation doubled from 10 to 20 percent in the decade from 2000 to 2010, one of the most significant changes shown by the survey.
These are some of the findings of the Structural Survey 2010 with current data on Switzerland’s religious and linguistics landscape, published for the first time since the 2000 census. The survey is now a core element of the new modular census, “which provides a more accurate picture of today’s ever-increasing pace of social change”, the Federal Statistical Office says.
An overview of the Swiss population
Religion: 38.8 percent Catholic (down 3.7 percent), 30.9 percent Reformed Evangelical Protestant (down 3.2 percent), 20.1 percent no affiliation, 4.5 percent Islam (up 0.9 percent), 0.2 percent Jewish.
Language: at home, Swiss-German remains dominant, 65.6 percent, followed by French with 22.8 percent, then Italian 8.4 percent, with the foreign language of English the fourth language in the country. Romansch, spoken in southeastern Switzerland, mainly in mountain areas, has remained stable with 0.6 percent of the population speaking it.
A significant difference in the 2010 survey was the possibility of indicating that a person speaks more than one main language; in 2000 only one option could be chosen.