Asian economies strong but lag behind Europe in attracting foreign talent, says IMD

business November 21, 2017 14:27

By ANN Desk
Asia News Network
LAUSANNE, Switzerland

3,936 Viewed

Hong Kong and Singapore top the Asian rankings at spots 12 and 13 respectively in World Talent Ranking of 63 countries in capacity to attract and retain highly skilled workers.

The leading Asian economies Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan – although trailing Europe – have confirmed their global status as hubs for attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers, says a new Talent study by the World Competitiveness Center at IMD, the leading global business school.

The annual IMD World Talent Ranking, now in its fourth year, assesses the methods countries use to attract and retain the talent their businesses need to thrive. The rankings are based on a country’s performance in three main categories; investment and development, appeal, and readiness. These categories assess how countries perform in education, apprenticeships, workplace training, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates. The study draws on an in-depth survey of thousands of executives from 63 different economies, and more than two decades of historical data.

Hong Kong and Singapore are the only Asian countries in the top 15 globally, leading the way in luring members of the skilled global workforce to the Asian region, ranked 12th and 13th respectively for capturing talent. These two countries, however, seem to follow a different direction with respect to their appeal factor resulting in capturing 12 th (Hong Kong) and 13 th (Singapore) positions respectively. The area for improvement for both countries is a strengthening in investment in order to develop local talent.

Here's a look at how Asian nations included in survey fared:  

Hong Kong SAR: Rank 12

Singapore: 13

Taiwan: 23

Malaysia: 28 

Japan: 31 

Korea Rep: 39 

China Mainland: 40 

Thailand: 42

Philippines: 45 

Indonesia: 47 

India: 51 

Mongolia: 62 

Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said: “Hong Kong and Singapore both compete fiercely for the best global foreign workers and do so with great success. “However, there are challenges which both economies face in terms of talent competitiveness. 

“In Singapore, the big concern is the more negative sentiment around its prospects for the future. The high level of indebtedness, the difficulty in supporting  investment in education, and an increasing cost of life, all make attracting foreign talent to the city-state much more difficult.”

Taiwan was ranked 23rd. Malaysia at rank 28th in the overall in the IMD World Talent Ranking, remaining relatively consistent in all the talent factors: 19th in investment and development, 30th in appeal and 27th in readiness.

China improved its position on 2016, moving to 40th place, in part by enhancing the quality of its talent pool and investment in public education. Japan ranked 31st and South Korea 39th. Overall, Japan’s performance in investment and development was in the upper third of the ranking.

Australia ranks 19th globally. Despite a relatively low performance in investment, development, appeal and readiness boosts its position in the overall ranking. It ranks high in quality of life and attracting foreign highly-skilled personnel. Its performance in expenditure on education and prioritization of employee training may be of concern for the sustainability of its talent flow.


Indonesia comes 47th  in the overall talent ranking mainly as a result of its weak performance in investment and readiness, its results in appeal are relatively better. Indonesia’s implementation of apprenticeships schemes and the prioritization of employee training are signs of future improvements to the country’s talent development. However, expenditure on education per pupil and the quality of education may offset those efforts.

India occupies the 51st spot, Thailand 42nd. 

Globally, Europe continues to dominate the rankings with Switzerland, Denmark, and Belgium as the most competitive countries and Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg making up the top-ten. The outstanding education systems in Europe sets them apart from the rest of the pack. On average, each has a high level of investment in education accompanied by a superior-quality educational system, from primary to tertiary levels. This allows them to develop local talent and at the same time attract foreign, highly-skilled professionals, which many European businesses rely upon to


Besides Mongolia and Venezuela, which capture the last two positions in the IMD World Talent Ranking, the lower spots are dominated by Eastern European countries like Croatia, Romania, and the Ukraine. While the decline in the latter is due to the investment and development of domestic talent in addition to the political crises that characterize the area, Croatia and Romania’s decline is partially explained by the decrease in the appeal and readiness factors.


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