Switzerland and Singapore occupy the top spots in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2017, with four Nordic countries in the top 10 (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway).
The United Kingdom and the United States rank third and fourth respectively.
High ranking countries share key traits, including educational systems that meet the needs of the economy, employment policies that favor flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship, and high connectedness of stakeholders in business and government.
“By focusing on ‘technology and talent’, this year’s report points at some of the most challenging issues that the world economy will face in the coming years, having to combine the creation of new job opportunities and sustainable growth, while offering new generations the possibility to live and work in a world that reflects the values they believe in,” says Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD.
“As the report underlines, the role of education will remain fundamental to reach this complex set of goals. This is a quest in which INSEAD intends to fully play its role as a provider of talent and leadership.”
Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director of Global Indices at INSEAD, and co-editor of the report, commented: “Technology is changing the ways we live and work, though not always in a spectacular fashion: the emergence of a ubiquitous internet, connected objects (e.g. self-driven cars), and virtual teams working from remote locations on a daily basis has been progressive and almost ‘invisible”.
“This is one of the reasons why they are affecting the world of work so deeply. Yet, to paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘news about the death of work have been largely exaggerated’: talent readiness and talent competitiveness will largely determine which economies will be leading in the race to turn technological advances into job creation.”
Paul Evans, The Shell Chair Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD, and Academic Director and co-editor of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, said: “Routine work is being taken over by algorithms and machines, but this creates new opportunities for connected, innovative work.
“But our school system, dating from the factory age, prepares our children for routine work rather than for creativity and projects, also neglecting to foster the learning-how-to-learn mentality that is needed in a world where people will have multiple careers during their lives.”
Alain Dehaze, Adecco Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “The fast advance of automation and artificial intelligence is the source of the most disruptive changes of our time in the way we live and work. The transition will be rocky, so governments and business must act.
“Education system reforms are urgently needed to provide the right technical and people skills, and the ability to adapt to change. As a multi-career reality becomes the norm, workers must boost employability by committing to life-long learning.
“At the same time, employment policies must combine employers’ need for flexibility with social protection. Only by working together will we respond to the challenges, unleash the power of work and boost prosperity.”
Profound impact of technology
Su-Yen Wong, CEO of Human Capital Leadership Institute, said: “Technology has a profound impact on the nature and structure of work. In this digital era where work is constantly evolving, a premium is placed not on employees who possess the highest level of technical competencies, but on those who have the ability to learn and re-learn on the job.
“Many employees will find themselves facing technological and structural unemployment if they do not re-invent themselves. To harness the power of human capital, governments and companies alike must inculcate a culture of continuous learning in the workforce, and also help individuals who do not possess the right skill sets for the future to reskill.”
As successful transformational change is most likely to occur where there are strong ecosystems, cities and regions are showing the way in talent competitiveness. They frequently enjoy higher financial independence and economic growth rates than the countries in which they are located, are able to focus on improving quality of life, and tend to have more agile decision making and innovative branding abilities.
To further explore the dynamics that turn cities into talent magnets, this year the partners launched the inaugural Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI).
The first edition of the GCTCI includes 46 cities, with Copenhagen placing first, followed by Zurich and Helsinki. San Francisco and Los Angeles are the two American cities in the top ten, ranking 4th and 8th respectively.
Sydney and Singapore, ranking 12th and 19th respectively, lead the way in Asia-Pacific. Whereas the talent performance of cities was measured across a series of dimensions, all of the top ten cities combine high quality of life, high connectivity, and high levels of opportunities for international exposure and careers.