Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

UK ranks third in global talent competitiveness ranking

The UK has been ranked third in the world for talent competiveness, according to a new global report measuring countries’ ability to attract, retain and grow talent.

  • The UK has been ranked as third best country in the world for the ability to attract, retain, train and educate skilled workers, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index
  • Index also shows UK to be well-equipped to deal with changes – and opportunities – brought by technology
  • London, Birmingham and Cardiff act as talent magnets, helping the UK attract more highly-skilled workers
  • Brexit will pose challenges for UK’s role in coming years

The UK has been ranked third in the world for talent competiveness, according to a new global report measuring countries’ ability to attract, retain and grow talent.

At third place in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) the UK is outperformed only by Switzerland and Singapore. This is also the highest ranking the UK has ever received in the index, which was launched in 2013. The UK’s performance is boosted by its flexible labour markets and external openness, but undermined by lower performance in areas such as women’s equality, internal openness, and vocational and technical skills.

Produced by the world’s leading provider of HR solutions Adecco Group, together with international business school INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute, the GTCI looks at 65 discrete variables. Ranging from corruption and foreign direct investment to the gender pay gap, labour productivity and university rankings, these help determine a country’s ‘talent competitiveness’ – the ability to develop, attract and retain skilled workers, thereby supporting productivity and prosperity.

This year’s GTCI comes at an important time, following a year defined by political and economic uncertainty. Aiming to provide decision-makers across business and government with the tools to drive competitiveness, the 2016-2017 report evaluates 118 countries, representing 88.7% of the world’s population and 97.3% of the world’s GDP.

GTCI 2017: TOP 10 COUNTRIES (2016 ranking in brackets)

1. Switzerland (1)

6. Australia (13)

2. Singapore (2)

7. Luxembourg (3)

3. United Kingdom (7)

8. Denmark (5)

4. United States (4)

9. Finland (10)

5. Sweden (6)

10. Norway (8)

The report also highlights the advanced and disruptive impact of technology on labour markets. From Big Data and cloud computing to the Internet of Things, technology is enabling autonomous and intelligent machines to take on a variety of tasks, and do a better job than humans.

According to the report, countries that are equipped to harness this disruptive power will be best placed in coming years and decades. The report also explores how technology can serve to augment human efficiency, highlighting the need for ‘softer’ talents, such as creativity, adaptability, and the ability to share ideas and work in teams.

The UK performs well across variables that determine a country’s talent readiness for technology – educational systems, employment and protection policies, stakeholder connectedness, and technology competences – illustrating its preparedness to adapt to and benefit from technological changes. 

This year’s report also includes the first ever Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI), a ranking of 46 cities according to their talent competitiveness. Whilst the three British cities included – London (16), Birmingham (17) and Cardiff (11) – all feature in the top 20, Cardiff’s strong performance showcases the ability of smaller cities to attract talent over larger metropolises.

Given that the UK has not yet formally exited the European Union, the 2017 GTCI report does not yet reflect the impact of Brexit.

Commenting on the UK’s ranking, John L Marshall, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland, said:

“This year’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index cements the UK’s position as a world leader in fostering and nurturing talent. Our flexible labour markets and external openness are just some of the factors that help the UK outperform many of its peers, but we continue to lag behind in areas such as vocational training and women’s equality. This is bad for business and it’s bad for Britain.

“The UK is well-positioned to both adapt to and reap advantages of the ongoing technology revolution. The fact that we were the first European country to introduce coding and computational logic into the school curriculum and investment in London’s Silicon Roundabout have made us a great tech nation. This puts us in good stead for coming years, but we have to make sure everyone across the labour market can benefit.

“While there is no doubt that the UK is a top destination for talent, it is important to remember the report does not yet capture the effect of the UK leaving the EU. Once Article 50 is triggered and the UK formally begins the process of exiting the EU, policy makers and business leaders will face a number of challenges and considerations that will impact the UK’s spot as a talent magnet. To make a success of Brexit, it’s important that the government pursues a strategy that protects the country’s ability to attract investment and top talent.”