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New Data on the Global Talent Wars

Posted by: Diane Brady on October 5, 2007

Heidrick & Struggles has put together a Global Talent Index that highlights some of the weaknesses of the top-ranked U.S. market when it comes to developing talent. The survey, conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit, points to tough visa restrictions and the largely unilingual nature of U.S. workers as two factors that could hurt U.S. competitiveness down the road.

Not only are the areas in which talent can be found changing, but the study suggests new global leaders must have very specific competencies. They need to be multilingual and have several years of living abroad (only 42% of top CEOs in the U.K. had international experience in 1996, but that figure grew to 79% by 2005). Large companies are increasingly developing their own universities and programs to train people, and obsession about retention from day one.

The study also suggests that the talent threats from Brazil and Russia may be more imagined than real at the point. The main reason: a low (and, in Russia’s case, declining) quality of education. Both are expected to drop in status as the world’s top talent hotspots over the next five years.

Where are the threats? India and China, of course, which will continue to draw talent as they draw foreign investment and build up their economies. (We have written about the war for skilled executives in China) Malaysia, South Korea and Japan also do well.

The study was based on seven factors in 30 countries, including demographics, quality of public education, quality of universities, quality to nurture talent, openness of labor market, trends in foreign investment and proclivity to attract talent.

Here’s the top 15 in nurturing global talent right now and, in brackets, the projected ranking in 2012.

1. U.S. (U.S.)
2. Canada (U.K.)
3. Netherlands (Canada)
4. U.K. (Netherlands)
5. Sweden (Sweden)
6. Germany (China)
7. Australia (Germany)
8. China (Australia)
9. France (France)
10. India (India)
11. Spain (Spain)
12. Malaysia (Malaysia)
13. Poland (South Korea)
14. Italy (Japan)
15. South Korea (Poland)

Reader Comments

Andres Solimano

April 28, 2008 5:34 PM

Interesting analysis. You may want also to look at our recent book The International Mobility of Talent. Types, Causes and Development Impact. Andres Solimano, Editor, Oxford University Press, 2008.


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