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UK ranks seventh in global war for talent, international study finds

Switzerland, Singapore and Denmark lead the global war for talent, a new international study has found.

Talent remains a highly competitive resource in today’s global economy, according to the first edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which was published today by INSEAD, based on research in partnership with the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI) and Adecco.

The GTCI, which measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain, will help countries monitor their progress over time and compare their performance to that of their neighbours and other economies. This will allow governments and decision-makers to make any crucial changes needed to improve talent competitiveness.

103 countries, representing 86.3% of the world’s population and 96.7% of the world’s GDP (in current US dollars), were analysed.

GTCI top 10


























The top of the GTCI rankings is heavily dominated by European countries. The top ten includes only two non-European countries, namely Singapore (2) and the United States (9).

The top-ranked nations all have many aspects in common, including a long-standing commitment to quality education (UK, Switzerland), history of immigration (US, Australia) and a clear strategy to grow and attract the best and brightest (Singapore).

First-placed Switzerland excelled in almost all variables, however, it was ranked 18th on its ability to attract talent. Within Europe, the northern parts of the continent appear most & lsquo;talent competitive’. However, Denmark outdid its Nordic neighbours by excelling in variables such openness among government officials and government effectiveness. Additionally, Denmark has better labour market flexibility and social protection than its neighbours in Northern Europe, which allowed it to achieve third place in the ranking.

For employers and policy-makers alike, the results provide a timely insight into the global pools of talent and what drives competitiveness in this area. For governments, adopting the right talent policies is critical to attracting global companies that can contribute to job creation, train local employees and spur further development.

Peter Searle, Chief Executive of Adecco Group UK & Ireland, said, “Britain needs a clear plan to ensure it attracts and retains talent to maintain its competitive position in the global economy where people are a vital resource for growth.

“At number seven in the GTCI, below Sweden but above Germany and France, Britain needs to address the increasing mismatch of talent across the sectors.

“Compared to many, Britain is already a successful hub in attracting skilled workers, but there is no room for complacency we still have unacceptable levels of youth unemployment and many young people lacking the skills and knowledge to secure their first job.

“The GTCI confirms that talent is a key resource and that it will only increase in importance over the coming years. Governments, business and educators need to work together to build a labour market that ensures our own talent is nurtured and maintained. Crucially, this report provides a platform from which a blueprint for talent and growth can be built.”

Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD, said, “There is a widespread mismatch between what companies need in terms of skills and what local labour markets can offer. Educational institutions are under pressure to supply the employable skills that the new global knowledge economy demands. Obviously, these issues require a collaborative effort among government, business, organised labour and global business schools such as INSEAD. While the approach may not be uniform across various economic environments, the provision of fact-based quantitative indicators such as the GTCI can help identify options and facilitate action.”

Bruno Lanvin, executive director for global indices, INSEAD, and co-author of the report, said, “Talent attractiveness is becoming the true currency by which countries, regions and cities compete with each other. Youth unemployment has become a core issue in all types of countries, rich or poor, industrialised or emerging: over 50% of people younger than 25 are unemployed in Southern Europe, while more than 50% of the population of many African countries is less than 18 years of age. The mere confrontation of these two figures gives an idea of the tensions, flows, and challenges that lie ahead.”

Kwan Chee Wei, CEO of the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI), said, “Nations, particularly those looking to enhance their talent capabilities, cannot take just one variable and concentrate on improving that particular field,” states Kwan Chee Wei, CEO of the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI). “Rather, they should take a holistic approach to establish a talent eco-system of government, business and education to address the multifaceted challenges of employability.”

The GTCI model and rankings rely on a variety of reliable international sources including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Furthermore, the GTCI model has passed the test of a rigorous audit by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.


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