January 22, 2018

2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index: Talent diversity and competitiveness will fuel the future of work

  • Developed, high-income countries are still the global talent champions
  • Zurich, Stockholm, Oslo take top spots in the cities’ ranking
  • Diversity can have a positive impact on competitiveness

Davos, Switzerland: The 2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report found that Switzerland still leads the way in terms of talent competitiveness, followed by Singapore and the United States. In general, European countries continue to dominate the GTCI rankings, with 15 in the top 25. This year’s edition also revealed that the top ten countries have several key characteristics in common and share one major feature: they all have a well-developed educational system providing the social and collaboration skills needed for employability in today’s labour market.

On further examination, there are several other characteristics in common between the top-raking countries:

  • A flexible regulatory and business landscape
  • Employment policies which combine flexibility and social protection
  • External and internal openness

In addition to the talent competitiveness ranking, this year’s report investigated the theme of ‘Diversity for competitiveness’. Three types of diversity were distinguished: cognitive, identity and preference (or value). The theme of diversity (collaboration between people with different personalities, knowledge sets, experiences and perspectives problem solving) was chosen because it plays a critical role in linking talent policies to innovation strategies. Paying attention to demographic diversity nurtures a sustainable and innovative future and helps organizations to retain and develop talent. Nevertheless, the report highlights that there is a cost to diversity: people are often ill equipped to collaborate with others who are different from themselves.

The report, published today by INSEAD, the Business School for the World, in partnership with the Adecco Group and Tata Communications, is a comprehensive annual benchmarking measuring how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent, providing a unique resource for decision makers to understand the global talent competitiveness picture and develop strategies for boosting their competitiveness.

Persistent correlations between economic performance and national talent competitiveness

Top 20 rankings in detail and results for specific variables

The 2018 edition of GTCI includes 68 variables (65 in 2017), covering 119 countries and 90 cities (respectively 118 and 47 in 2017). This year again, GTCI scores are led by developed, high-income countries.

  • Switzerland maintains its number 1 position, followed by Singapore and the United States.
  • European countries continue to dominate the GTCI rankings, with 15 of them in the top 25.
  • Among the non-European countries ranking high this year, are Australia (11th), New Zealand (12th), Canada (15th), the United Arab Emirates (17th), and Japan (20th) for example.
  • Latin America often leads in producing female graduates (Argentina ranks 5th on that variable).
  • Efforts in education (compared to GDP per capita) are high in Africa (Botswana is 1st, Lesotho 2nd, Senegal 5th) showing that the challenges have been correctly identified in that area, though the effectiveness of those investments can still be improved.

2018 Top 25 Ranking

The index assesses the policies and practices that enable a country to develop and empower the talent that contributes to productivity and prosperity. The GTCI is a composite index, relying on a model, composed of six pillars (Enable, attract, grow, retain on the input side, and vocational/technical skills and global knowledge skills on the output side).

Overall ranking Country Score
1 Switzerland 79.90
2 Singapore 78.42
3 United States of America 75.34
4 Norway 74.56
5 Sweden 74.32
6 Finland 73.95
7 Denmark 73.79
8 United Kingdom 73.11
9 Netherlands 72.56
10 Luxembourg 71.64
11 Australia 71.61
12 New Zealand 71.52
13 Ireland 71.38
14 Iceland 70.48
15 Canada 69.63
16 Belgium 69.56
17 United Arab Emirates  68.88
18 Austria 68.63
19 Germany 67.77
20 Japan 62.63
21 France 62.61
22 Estonia 61.93
23 Qatar 61.90
24 Israel 61.79
25 Czech Republic 60.02

 

This year’s leader in the Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index is Zurich (2nd last year).
8 out of the Top 10 ranking cities are located in Europe, and 2 in the United States of America.

Rank City Score
1 Zurich (Switzerland) 71.0
2 Stockholm (Sweden) 68.2
3 Oslo (Norway) 68.1
4 Copenhagen (Denmark) 67.1
5 Helsinki (Finland) 66.8
6 Washington DC (United States) 66.5
7 Dublin (Ireland) 66.1
8 San Francisco (United States) 63.4
9 Paris (France) 63.2
10 Brussels (Belgium) 62.7

 

The challenge of diversity

The in-depth supplementary analysis of the 2018 report reveals how organisations, cities and nations are approaching diversity. It reveals that diversity is not an end in itself, but must always be accompanied by a culture of inclusion in order to flourish and have real impact. Targets and statistics cannot replace cultural acceptance and openness.

GTCI findings, however, show that there is no absolute model for diversity and inclusion. Switzerland, for example, does not score as well as its top GTCI position would imply on leadership opportunities for women. The Nordics score remarkably on most variables related to collaboration, internal openness, social mobility and gender equality, but they struggle in external openness, and hence in attracting talent.  But since countries and cities have different contexts, their creative strategies and local innovations illuminate best practices that may inspire others.

“Views of diversity have evolved significantly during the last few decades”, explains Bruno Lanvin, executive director, Global Indices, INSEAD, and co-editor of the report. “Organisations have learned that there is a difference between singing in unison (uniformity) and singing in harmony (diversity), and that this difference can be measured in terms of efficiency, competitiveness, and innovation. On complex tasks, diverse teams will overtake teams of talented but similar individuals by a sizeable margin; demographically diverse groups outperform homogeneous groups on various occasions. Diversity can fuel creative problem solving but, when managed imperfectly, it can also lead into time-consuming conflicts. Hence the importance of collaborative and interpersonal skills and inclusion.”

Paul Evans, academic director, GTCI, Shell chaired professor of human resources and organisational development, Emeritus, INSEAD, underlines the crucial role of inclusion and education to leverage diversity. “Inclusion and diversity go hand in hand when it comes to diversity strategies. To capture the benefits of innovation, organisational leaders need to be committed to diversity and to build an inclusive culture. High-performing organisations have to build confidence so that people can express views and act without the filter of unconscious bias. Acceptance of diversity begins in the family and at school. Formal education (from kindergarten to tertiary education) has a crucial responsibility in building the collaborative competences needed for a more inclusive world.”

Diversity is a crucial leverage for innovation. Peter Zemsky, deputy dean and dean of innovation of INSEAD, stresses that “Frameworks for organisational leadership emphasise the behavioural importance of networking externally rather than internally. Today, fuelled by the explosion of information in the knowledge economy, exploiting local innovation opportunities is becoming more important for the competitive advantage of corporations than exploiting R&D at corporate headquarters”.

Alain Dehaze, group chief executive officer, ADECCO, said, “Focusing on diversity and inclusion is crucial to overcome the fractures and inequalities of our age. This means nurturing a culture of inclusion, starting at home and school, fighting bias and developing social and collaborative skills, which are key to unleash the power of work and will make the future work for everyone.”

Vinod Kumar, chief executive officer and managing director, Tata Communications, asserts the view that, “As digital transformation becomes a priority for more and more organisations, highly automated technologies fuelled by AI are entering the workplace. As humans and machines start to work side-by-side, the businesses must start viewing talent and diversity generated competitiveness as extending beyond humankind to include machine. In accepting the primacy of digital infrastructure, neither talent nor diversity will be considered as exclusive to people alone.”

 “The capacity to leverage diversity requires bold and visionary leadership—at the level of organisations, cities, and nations. In this regard, cities are perfect labs. In many cities around the world, promoting diversity has led to significant advances, especially from the point of view of inclusion: concepts such as ‘inclusive prosperity’ or ‘smart cities’ need to be revisited from that particular angle. These concepts provide ample room for concertation with local stakeholders”, emphasise Bruno Lanvin and Paul Evans.

For more information:
Download the report 
Download the Infographic