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Switzerland leads way in talent competitiveness, index finds

The 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report reveals that Switzerland, Singapore and the United States continue to lead the world in talent competitiveness, while countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa are seeing a progressive erosion of their talent base. The report confirms that talent issues have become a mainstream concern for firms, nations and cities, with talent performance seen as a critical factor to growth and prosperity. The UK ranked 9th on the Index.

The UK’s position in the top ten most talent competitive countries is bolstered by its leading pool of Global Knowledge Skills, as indicated by its culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and the development of high-value industries. The UK also performs consistently well in the Enable, Attract and Grow-talent pillars, ranking ninth in each of these categories. This performance can largely be accredited to its strong business environment, world-class educational institutions and ability to appeal to foreign talent and investment. But the UK’s position is undermined by its Vocational and Technical Skills; which deals with mid-level skills and employability, for which it’s ranked 27th. 

This year’s report has a special focus on entrepreneurial talent - how it is being encouraged, nurtured and developed throughout the world and how this affects the relative competitiveness of different economies. New approaches are emerging to stimulate entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial talent and futureproof employees – for example, the efforts to develop bottom up innovation and empower employees. Such progress is especially true in the cities, where ‘Smart cities’ ecosystems are increasingly acting as talent magnets. The results further show:

  • The highest-ranking countries and cities tend to be the most open to entrepreneurial talent; digitalisation and globalisation are increasing the role of entrepreneurial talent.

The report also reveals that cities rather than countries are developing stronger roles as talent hubs and will be crucial to reshaping the global talent scene. This growing importance of cities is due to their greater flexibility and ability to adapt to new trends and patterns – as nimble economic units where policy can be changed more swiftly, cities are thus more attractive for talent, especially entrepreneurial talent.

The top-ranked city this year is Washington, DC, followed by Copenhagen, Oslo, Vienna and Zurich. Washington’s position can be attributed to its strong performance across four of the five pillars measured in the research, specifically in the “Be Global”, “Attract”, “Grow” and “Enable” pillars. Its steady economy, dynamic population, outstanding infrastructure and connectivity, highly-skilled workforce and world class education are all characteristics which contribute to making the city such a talent hub.

For the first time, the 2019 GTCI provides a longitudinal analysis of talent competitiveness based on the results of all GTCI editions since 2013. The main finding is that the gap separating the talent champions from the rest of the global community has been growing. Talent competitiveness is strengthening in groups of countries where it is already comparatively high and weakening in those where it is relatively low.

Alain Dehaze, chief executive officer of the Adecco Group, stated, “As the world of work rapidly changes, there is a danger that if countries and cities do not have the right conditions for attracting talent, people and businesses will move away and look for opportunities elsewhere. The results of this year’s GTCI report are further evidence of how entrepreneurial talent is being increasingly seen as one way of successfully navigating a world in constant flux. Nurturing it is a vital part of creating the right environment for talent to flourish and to lay the seeds for success in the future.”

Alex Fleming, president and country head of the Adecco Group UK&I, said, “It’s great that the UK continues to be a world-leader for talent competitiveness. To remain ahead as the global economy evolves, entrepreneurial talent is no longer just essential for start-ups but a necessary state of mind for everyone. Our strong record for global openness, is key for entrepreneurial talent to thrive, so this is especially encouraging.

“Not only can entrepreneurial talent help the UK navigate the uncertain future of work, but also the challenges and opportunities that will emerge after Brexit. Now more than ever, the government needs to stimulate innovation by creating policies and incentives that will enable and encourage new solutions. Companies and individuals have their part to play too by encouraging continuous training and lifelong learning. Essentially, it will not be the fastest but rather the most adaptable individuals, companies, cities and ultimately countries that will thrive in our future economy.”

The 2019 GTCI report is published by INSEAD, in partnership with the Adecco Group and Tata Communications.

The report measures levels of global talent competitiveness by looking at 68 variables. The 2019 index covers 125 national economies and 114 cities (respectively 119 and 90 in 2018) across all groups of income and levels of development.

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