Seven key findings for HR from Global Talent Competitiveness Index 201

Singapore, despite being ranked second in the world this year, can afford to introduce more flexible labour policies combined with social protection, says report co-author Paul Evans.

This year’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), released earlier this year, saw Singapore retain its top spot as Asia Pacific’s top talent hub for the fourth consecutive year. 

At the study’s regional launch on Tuesday (April 18) at the INSEAD Asia campus in Singapore, co-author Paul Evans detailed to a packed house of business and HR leaders key findings from the 2017 report. 

Produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore, the annual report measures the ability of countries to compete for talent based on a set of indicators. 

Evans says one of the interesting things about this year’s report is that the indicators were tweaked, following feedback and further analyses of past reports. This year’s index included 65 variables, up from 61 last year, split into two main categories: Input and Output. 

On the input side, the four sub-pillars are: enable, attract, grow and retain. Output is split into vocational and technical skills, and global knowledge skills. 

Singapore did well because it scored high in the enable, attract and global knowledge pillars. Singapore’s well-developed regulatory and market landscapes create a conducive environment for global talent to thrive. 

But Asia’s biggest economies, China and India, still have some ways to go in attracting talent. 

“Both China and India are having problems with attracting back local talent. India has a bit more success, but both face the issue of local higher-skilled workers leaving to work abroad,” says Evans, who is also the Shell Chair or HR and Organisational Development, Emeritus at Insead.  

This year’s study, for the first time, also focused on how technological change is affecting each country’s talent competitiveness.  Seven key messages, says Evans, emerged from GTCI 2017:

  • Employers must think beyond automation. This involves recognising the profound transforma­tion of social systems that are underway—changes in organisa­tion (connectivity), in careers (multiple ca­reers), and in the educational and employ­ment systems that, in many if not most countries, are still found­ed on a fast-fading 20th-century factory mode    
  • Technology is changing the nature of work. Technology allows people with specialised skills to deliver on tasks, to collaborate, and even to engage in innova­tive co-creation—all without the constraints of a physical workplace or employment contract.  There is also a need to place more emphasis on facili­tating individuals to help themselves. Organisations in the new economy need to manage talent differently.     
  • Technical skills and social/project competence is the new talent profile. Although there will be many oppor­tunities for people with digital skills, technical skills must be com­plemented with social and project skills to meet the needs of the highly connected new economy where innovation comes increasingly from collaboration and co-creation.     
  • Educational and employment policies must adapt to the transformational changes of the fourth indus­trial revolution. Educational systems need to produce talent with technical skills and the ability to collaborate with others from different disciplines. They need to foster a sense of personal vocation and flexibility or learning agility.    
  • Employment policies need to combine labour market flexibility with social protection and above all active la­bour market policies that facilitate mobility, retraining, entrepre­neurship, and adjustment to market needs. Policies also have to be adapted to a world where many people are free agents.    
  • Successful transformational change is most likely to occur where there are strong ecosystems. Address­ing the societal impact of digitalisation and automation requires close connectedness and collaboration between stakeholders such as government/municipalities, business, and educational institutions.    
  • This is particularly true because of the velocity of the changes associated with Industry 4.0. Such collaborative ecosys­tems are more likely to be found in cities and regions than in large countries.      
  • National strategies have started to reflect such changes, but too slowly. Based on an assessment of tal­ent readiness for technology, two countries in Asia Pacific are particularly well-positioned: Singapore and New Zealand.    
  • Singapore is Asia’s clear leader, while Malaysia demonstrates stronger talent readi­ness for technology than South Korea, though the technological infrastructure of the latter is superior; China is in a reasonably robust position on talent readiness for technology, closely followed by Vietnam.    
  • Cities and regions are showing the way. Cities and regions around the world are becoming increasingly active in developing their own strategies to attract, grow, and retain talent. Hence it is to be expected that, in the near future, some of the best and most in­novative talent competitiveness practices will come from cities.

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