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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Switzerland leads the 5th consecutive edition of the IMD World Talent Ranking 11-22

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The 2018 edition of one of the world’s foremost reports on the quality of international workforces h
as been released, with Western Europe dominating the top-10

IMD's fifth edition of the World Talent Ranking 2018 assesses the extent to which countries develop, attract and retain talent to sustain the pool that enterprises employ to create long-term value
Canada is the only non-European nation in top-10

The full ranking is available here

Lausanne, Switzerland 19 November 2018 - Switzerland in first and Denmark in second, firmly lead the IMD World Talent Ranking 2018 for the fifth year in a row, followed by Norway, Austria and the Netherlands. Norway joins the top three, advancing four places up from last year, thanks to an improvement in public expenditure on education and the readiness of its talent pool. Canada (6th), Finland (7th), Sweden (8th), Luxembourg (9th), and Germany (10th) complete the top 10.
The Slovak Republic (59th), Colombia (60th), Mexico (61st), Mongolia (62nd), and Venezuela (63rd) are the last countries in the ranking.

“Since 2014, the Talent Ranking assesses how the 63 economies we study develop, attract and retain highly-skilled professionals. Cultivating a skilled and educated workforce is crucial to strengthening competitiveness and achieving long-term prosperity, particularly in the current dynamic landscape where artificial intelligence, robotics and other new technologies constantly redefine the challenges that governments, businesses and society in general will have to face in the future,” said Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center. “This year the most successful countries in talent competitiveness are mainly European, mid-size economies. Moreover, these countries share high levels of investment in education and quality of life,” concludes Arturo Bris.

The IMD World Talent Ranking 2018, which has just been released from the Singapore edition of IMD’s signature program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP), evaluates the capability of 63 countries in developing, attracting and retaining talent. The assessment is based on three factors: Investment and Development, Appeal, and Readiness. These factors include indicators that capture the resources invested in developing local talent, the extent to which a country attracts and retains talent, and the quality of skills available in the talent pool.

Hard data and responses to the IMD Executive Opinion Survey are used to produce the ranking. The latter annual survey compiles input from over six thousand executives based in 63 different economies.

Western Europe leads, Eastern Europe lags, North America gives strong performance

This year, Switzerland once again confirms its role as an important global talent hub. It ranks 4th in Investment and Development, and 1st in both the Appeal and Readiness factors. In addition, several European countries fall within the 25 most competitive with respect to talent. Belgium (11th), Cyprus (15th), Portugal (17th), Ireland (21st), United Kingdom (23rd), and France (25th) complete this list.
With the exception of Estonia (28th), Slovenia (30th), and Latvia (33rd), Eastern European countries generally place in the lower part of the ranking. For instance, Slovak Republic (59th), Bulgaria (57th), and Romania (56th) underperform in attracting highly skilled workers from abroad and they also face problems in retaining their locally-grown talent.

Canada (6th) is the only non-European country in the top ten, rising from 11th place, lifted by an improvement in the quality of its talent pool. The USA (12th) also moves up with respect to last year showing advancements in all three talent factors.

Singapore and Hong Kong SAR lead in Asia Pacific

In Asia, Singapore (13th), Hong Kong SAR (18th) and Malaysia (22nd) achieve the best placements in terms of talent competitiveness. While the two city-states continue to excel in tapping into the international talent pool, Malaysia instead focuses on investments in education to develop its homegrown skilled workforce. Taiwan (27th) prioritizes the attraction and retention of talent, Japan improves (29th) due to the availability of skilled labor and the effectiveness of its education system and South Korea advances (33rd) partly due to increased government expenditure on education and improvements in the implementation of apprenticeships programs and employee training. China (39th) places in the second half of the ranking, because of its difficulties in attracting foreign skilled workers paired with a level of public expenditure in education that remains below the average of other advanced economies. Kazakhstan (40th) and Thailand (42nd) also fall in the second half of the ranking, partly due to their performance in the readiness of domestic talent.

In the Pacific area, Australia (14th) and New Zealand (20th) confirm their role as talent-appealing hubs. Both countries show high levels of readiness in their talent pool and offer attractive quality of life for international professionals.

Latin America struggles.

At the bottom of the ranking are several Latin American countries. These economies are struggling to develop and retain talent. Venezuela (63rd), Mexico (61st), Colombia (60th) and Brazil (58th) all share issues related to brain drain, matched by a relatively low level of investment in education.
In annex: detailed region and country-specific information.


Switzerland tops the talent ranking for the fifth consecutive year confirming its role as an important global talent hub. It ranks 4th in Investment and Development, and 1st in both the Appeal and Readiness factors.

The country ranks 1st in apprenticeships, health infrastructure, highly-skilled foreign personnel, remuneration in the services professions, remuneration of management, the education system, university education and management education. Other strengths include international experience (2nd), retaining human capital (2nd), and quality of life (3rd). The latter, however, shows a slight decline this year.

Switzerland’s lowest rankings at the indicator level are in cost-of-living (59th), labor force growth (38th), pupil-teacher ratio in primary education (30th) and female labor force (26th). There has been an increase in negative perceptions of the prioritization that the private sector gives to attracting and retaining talent which drops to 12th (from 4th).

Nordic countries

Denmark ranks 2nd in the overall ranking. Norway takes 3rd place, Finland and Sweden come in at 7th and 8th respectively. Iceland, the only Nordic country ranked outside the top 10, is 16th.
For the third consecutive year, Denmark ranks 1st in the Investment and Development Factor. The country improves three places in the Appeal factor in which it ranks 7th. However, it drops 4 places in the Readiness factor to 8th. Norway improves its performance in all factors, ranking 3rd, 12th and 10th in Investment and Development, Appeal and Readiness, respectively. Finland rises in the Appeal factor (21st) and decreases two positions in both the Investment and Development (7th), and Readiness (7th) factors. Conversely, Sweden remains 9th in Investment and Development, and improves to 9th in Appeal and 15th in Readiness (from 12th and 19th, respectively).

At the factor level, Nordic countries all have their best performance in Investment and Development. Here they are all highly ranked in total public expenditure. Norway, Finland and Denmark rank 2nd, 6th and 7th (respectively) in health infrastructure. In the employee training indicator, Denmark is 1st and Norway reaches 5th place.

In the Appeal factor, most Nordic countries are perceived to have high quality of life and be successful in attracting and retaining talent. Nevertheless, high cost of living and high personal income tax rates may constrain the Nordics from further strengthening their talent pools.
In Readiness, the region ranks high in the availability of finance and language skills. Denmark, Norway and Finland perform well in the effectiveness of their education systems in general, and specifically in management education as well as science in schools. Notably, the indicator capturing the availability of senior managers with international experience is one of the weakest points in the performance of Norway (34th) and Iceland (51st).


Spain is positioned (31st) in the top half of the annual IMD World Talent Ranking.
Among Western-European countries, it ranks ahead of only Italy (32nd) and Greece (44th). However, Spain performs better than almost all Eastern European countries with the exception of Estonia (28th) and Slovenia (30th).

In the Investment and Development factor, Spain drops from 30th to 36th. While in the Appeal factor Spain remains in the 25th spot. In the Readiness factor it improves slightly from 41st to 40th.
The Investment and Development factor includes one of Spain’s key strengths; in the health infrastructure indicator, it ranks 9th. However, this factor also shows some of its main weaknesses. The country ranks 58th in employee training and 55th in the implementation of apprenticeships. This may explain Spain’s relatively poor performance in Investment and Development.

Key strengths lie in Spain’s Appeal factor. In both, the remuneration of management and the quality of life indicators, Spain ranks 19th. Although this factor highlights the need to prioritize attracting and retaining talent (58th position).

Within the Readiness factor, Spain’s performance in indicators assessing the effectiveness of university and management education and the availability of competent senior managers, shows steady improvement since 2016. Yet, there are some weaknesses in this factor. For example, in labor force growth, Spain ranks 53rd and in language skills, it comes in at 52nd.


With the exception of Estonia (28th) and Slovenia (30th), Eastern European countries generally place in the lower part of the ranking.

Estonia improves slightly this year. It ranks 16th in Investment and Development, 33rd in Appeal, and 31st in Readiness. It progresses five ranks in the Appeal factor mainly due to improvements in worker motivation, the impact of brain drain, and the country’s attractiveness for highly-skilled foreign personnel. In the Readiness factor, Estonia also moves up four ranks as a result of an upturn in positive perceptions of the availability of finance skills, executives with international experience, competent senior managers, language skills, and the effectiveness of the education system.

Slovenia moves from 37th to 30th place. It ranks 27th in Investment and Development, 42nd in Appeal and 29th in Readiness. The country’s ranking improvements arise from more positive executive opinions about the private sector’s prioritization of attracting and retaining talent, quality of life, and availability of senior managers with international experience and language skills. There are some worrying signs for the future development of the country’s talent pool. It ranks 59th in the implementation of apprenticeships and 56th in the country’s attractiveness for highly-skilled overseas staff.

Elsewhere in the region, other countries improve to different degrees: the Czech Republic ranks 37th, Ukraine 48th, Hungary 49th and Croatia 54th. Ukraine’s strong performance in moving out of the bottom five originates mainly in gains in the implementation of apprenticeships, emphasis on employee training and the effectiveness of its health infrastructure. In addition, Ukraine improves in the prioritization of attracting and retaining talent, availability of a skilled labor force, financial skills and competent senior managers.

Conversely, Lithuania (33rd to 36th), Poland (34th to 38th), and Russia (43rd to 46th) all decline.
At the lower end of the ranking, Romania (56th), Bulgaria (57th), and the Slovak Republic (59th) all decline in the Investment and Development factor. In the Appeal factor, the Slovak Republic and Bulgaria drop, and Romania rises. While Bulgaria and Romania slightly improve in the Readiness factor, the Slovak Republic drops several ranks because of a deterioration across all components of the factor.

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