IMD World Talent Report 2023
I am very happy to present the IMD World Talent Ranking 2023. In a world in which the trade of physical assets is disrupted, talent mobility and the globalization of services are two ways in which economies remain interconnected. As you will see from this year’s rankings, the countries that top the list are small, European economies with well-developed economic systems. These countries are also significant attractors of foreign talent. Our research has shown that a good quality of life in its widest sense — good prospects, feeling safe, and living somewhere where the environment is taken into consideration — is a major driver of international executive mobility. While executives are not a representative sample of the entire population, they reflect a trend here to stay, whereby mobility is driven by the competitiveness of nations. That is to say that people move to more competitive countries, those thriving in terms of quality of life, security, and sustainability. This year’s rankings also show that as economies become more service-oriented (a transformation process that has also reached China and India), the physical presence of employees in the country of their employers is no longer needed. All in all, we observe the emergence of a new type of employee who has been educated in one country, lives in another, and works for a company located in a third country. Such a phenomenon has implications for fiscal rules and education systems. With respect to fiscal rules, the new landscape for talent mobility raises questions about how nations are going to cope with taxation for employees who do not live in their countries. The latter issue will see the importance of national education systems — historically, a major pillar of country competitiveness — becoming undermined because companies will be able to officially and remotely recruit employees “their country” has not trained, transferring the cost of education to other nations. Adapting education systems to the needs of economic systems remains one of the big challenges of talent competitiveness. Many “winners” in our ranking –such as Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark –are also countries that emphasize professional training and apprenticeships over general academic subjects. We do not recommend one versus the other, but the economic trade-offs of either choice are relevant. Policymakers would do well to bear this in mind, while also noting that we are starting to see some of our most highly performing countries (Sweden, Singapore) question both the introduction of technology in the classroom and the extent to which it reduces our ability to be creative and reflective. The future will tell us how to balance the benefits of digital transformation with the developmental needs of human talent.
Professor Arturo Bris Director IMD World Competitiveness Center
World Competitiveness Center
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