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Our friends at INSEAD have released the 2015-2016 edition of its annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI). The study was produced in collaboration with the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI) and Adecco Group.

Movement of talent and economic prosperity

This year’s theme of ‘Talent Attraction and International Mobility’ focuses on findings linked to the significant correlation between movement of talent and economic prosperity. Mobility is vital to fill skill gaps; and a high proportion of innovative, entrepreneurial people were born or studied abroad. It is hence not surprising that top ranking countries have positioned themselves as desirable destinations for high-skilled workers. Faced with new types of migration flows, decision makers need to shape policies and strategies to address both the immediate concerns of their constituencies and the longer-term interests of their citizens.

What countries rank best?

The top three countries ranked on talent competitiveness are Switzerland at number one, followed by Singapore and Luxembourg in second and third places, respectively, remaining the same as in 2014.

Countries ranked in the top 10 clearly demonstrated openness in terms of talent mobility – close to 25% of the respective populations of Switzerland and Luxembourg were born abroad; the proportion is even 43% in Singapore. The proportion is also significant in the United States (4), Canada (9), New Zealand (11), Austria (15), and Ireland (16). There has been little change in the top 20 since the release of the last edition of the GTCI report, with the exception of Czech Republic (20) entering this group, New Zealand improving its performance significantly, while Canada and Ireland saw modest declines.

Specific themes around mobility

Through analyses and comparisons of the scores registered by individual countries, a number of patterns and similarities emerge, converging towards eight key messages relating to this year’s theme:

  • Mobility has become a key ingredient of talent development: creative talent cannot be fully developed if international mobility and ‘brain circulation’ are not encouraged.
  • The migration debate needs to move from emotions to solutions: countries will find it advantageous to address movements of people through a talent perspective.
  • Management practices make a difference in attracting talent: apart from monetary incentives and standard of living, another important differentiator in talent attraction is the professionalism of management and investment in employee development.

Jobs and people move

While people continue to move to jobs and opportunities, jobs are now moving to where the talent is: some countries have started to attract the attention of international investors because of creative talent at a reasonable cost: China, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam in the Asia Pacific region; Malta, Slovenia, Cyprus and Moldova in the European region; Turkey, Jordan and Tunisia in the MENA region; and Panama in Central America.

Talent magnets are emerging

New ‘talent magnets’ are emerging: While the US, Singapore and Switzerland have long been attractive to talent, competition may become fierce among emerging talent hubs such as Indonesia, Jordan, Chile, South Korea, Rwanda and Azerbaijan, as more aspire to join these increasingly attractive destinations.

Robots and algorithms move in

Low-skilled workers continue to be replaced by robots, while knowledge workers are displaced by algorithms: as mobility continues to be redefined in new ways, notably through technology, knowledge workers are affected and this shift signals that entire sectors of activity may be displaced. Some people may have to work virtually for different employers from their homes, while others have to retrain and move far to obtain jobs.

Talent circulation is the new normal

In a world of talent circulation, cities and regions are becoming critical players in the competition for global talent: agility and branding of cities seem to be more critical differentiators than size as an increasing number of large cities adopt imaginative policies to attract global talent.

Lack of vocational skills in emerging markets

Scarce vocational skills continue to handicap emerging countries: gaps in vocational skills continue to exist in emerging countries such as China, India, and South Africa, and particularly in Brazil where talent capabilities show signs of weakening on all fronts. This is also true for some high-income countries such as Ireland, Belgium and Spain.

This year’s GTCI country coverage has improved, allowing the report to cover 109 countries (versus 93 countries in 2014), representing 83.8 percent of the world’s population and 96.2 percent of the world’s GDP.

GTCI 2016


About Jörgen Sundberg

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

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