Our friends at INSEAD today released the 2014 edition of its annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI). The study, which focuses on the topic of ‘growing talent for today and tomorrow’, was produced in collaboration with the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI) and Adecco Group. Measuring a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain, the index placed Switzerland at number one, followed by Singapore and Luxembourg in second and third places, respectively.

As in 2013, GTCI rankings are dominated by European countries, with only six non-European countries in the top 20: Singapore (2), the United States (4), Canada (5), Australia (9), New-Zealand (16) and Japan (20). Many of the other economies in the ‘top 20’ have strong immigration traditions, including the United States (4), Canada (5), Sweden (6), the United Kingdom (7), and Australia(9).  These high performing countries also have long prioritised education, as is the case for the other Scandinavian countries, all in the top 15: Denmark (8), Norway (11), and Finland (13).

The GTCI study reveals six key factors affecting talent competitiveness across countries of different GDP per capita and development levels:

Key takeaways

  1. Openness is key to talent competitiveness: Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg all have a high degree of openness to trade, investment, immigration and new ideas, embracing globalisation while leveraging their human resources.
  2. Fiscally stable countries need talent competitiveness for sustainable development: mineral or oil rich countries, or those with context-specific competitive advantage, should foster talent competitiveness to ensure sustainable prosperity.
  3. Talent growth can be internal or external: some countries like the US and in Europe successfully focus on developing talent within their own borders, while others such as China attract foreign talent or send their elites abroad for further education.
  4. Countries must consider employability or risk high unemployment: ‘talent for growth’ means meeting the actual needs of a national economy. Switzerland, Singapore and the Nordic countries customise their education systems towards appropriate levels of ‘employable skills’.
  5. Education systems need to reconsider traditional learning: talent development in the 21st century must go beyond traditional formal education and develop vocational skills.
  6. Technology is changing the meaning of ‘employable skills’: technological changes will affect new segments of the labour market, impacting the 250 million ‘knowledge workers’ globally today.

Related: What Countries are Best at Attracting Talent? [STUDY]

talent competitive for countries

About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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