Lausanne-based business school IMD released its annual World Talent Report on Wednesday showing that Switzerland leads the way in developing, attracting and retaining talent to satisfy corporate needs.
The research ranks Denmark second and Luxembourg third, with Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Canada, Belgium and Singapore completing the top 10.
A host of major economies fare less impressively, with the US languishing in 14th place and the UK 21st. France comes in at 27th place, while mainland China is way down the list in 40th position.
“Pure economic power and talent don’t always go hand-in-hand,” Arturo Bris, director of IMD’s World Competitiveness Center, said in the report. “The key attribute among all the countries that rank highly in our standings is agility, as shown in their capacity to shape policies that preserve their talent pipeline,” the author of the study added.
Rankings are based on 20 years’ worth of competitiveness-related data, including an in-depth survey of more than 4,000 executives in the 61 countries covered by the study.
The research focuses on three main categories – investment/development, appeal and readiness – which in turn are derived from a much broader range of factors.
These include education, apprenticeship, employee training, brain-drain, cost of living, worker motivation, quality of life, language skills, remuneration and tax rates.
The main categories are aggregated into a yearly overall ranking. In addition, each country’s evolution in the various aspects is assessed over the course of a decade – in this instance from 2005 to 2015 – to identify the most talent-competitive countries.
Outstanding Alpine state
Other than in 2006, when Austria took top spot before slipping back into the chasing pack, Switzerland came first overall in every year in the past decade.
Its pre-eminence conclusively overturns long-held popular notions that the country’s business acumen is limited to just a handful of specialist niche markets.
IMD’s Arturo Bris said: “The fact is that it has consistently achieved a positive balance between encouraging local talent and tapping into top talent from other countries. This is a quality all the high-ranking economies have to some extent, but only the best constantly update and refine the required competencies to truly sustain their talent pipeline.”
Overall, the research suggests Northern Europe boasts the greatest concentration of business talent hotspots in the world.
Singapore supplanted Malaysia as the Southeast Asian economy best equipped to develop, attract and retain talent, with Hong Kong also performing well.
But in Latin America even Brazil, the region’s most powerful economy, was found to have suffered deterioration across a range of relevant performance indicators. Although Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Colombia have slightly improved their positions this year, all Latin American countries in the study place in the bottom third of the ranking.