2011 Global Talent Index

Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

The famous “war for talent” lives on.  Or does it? Heidrick and Struggles, the international recruitment firm, together with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), have just published their 2011 “Global Talent Index” report.  This year, in addition to a report which can be downloaded here, they have provided the resources for blogs and other sites to help spread the word about the report, including videos and interactive tools.

Here is a video introduction to the Global Talent Index from Kevin Kelly, CEO of Heidrick and Struggles:

2011 Global Talent Index – Overview & Methodology from Heidrick & Struggles on Vimeo.

In a nutshell, the report ranks 60 countries around the world against seven factors, in today’s economy, as well as projections to 2015:

  • Demographics – size of working population ages 20-59, and growth rate of such population
  • Compulsory education – quality of schooling
  • University education – quality of universities, number ranked in top 100 globally
  • Quality of labor force – language, technical skills, prevalence of research, local managers
  • Talent environment – R&D spend, labor laws, wage regulation, pay for performance
  • Openness – diversity, percentage of nationals studying abroad, hiring of foreign nationals, trade openness
  • Proclivity to attract talent – employment growth, per capita disposable income.

This data was ranked using a quantitative model to determine a talent index for each country, with the highest score indicating the most positive climate for talent, and so on.  Here is a list of the top ten highest-ranking countries:

  1. United States
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. Singapore
  5. Australia
  6. Sweden
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Switzerland
  9. Holland
  10. Israel

There are not so many surprises on the list above.  But when the researchers looked at projected data just five years into the future, the list changes a bit:

  1. United States
  2. Denmark
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Norway
  6. Singapore
  7. Australia
  8. Canada
  9. Switzerland
  10. Hong Kong

The trend from 2011 to 2015 is instructive.

Canada rises to the ranks of the top 10 by 2015, driven mainly by education and flexible immigration policies which offset low birth rates.  Azerbaijan will take an economic hit as the oil industry contracts there, while economic problems in Greece and political and economic instability in Venezuela have profound impact on those country’s performance.

Organizational Perspective
The researchers also interviewed over 400 business leaders to get their opinions on many issues related to talent.  This insight provides more subjective information about what organizations think and how they are managing the changes in the talent landscape going forward.

Most importantly, as human resources professionals, this sort of intelligence can be used proactively with management to engage in rich discussions about the future, and how your company can or should manage talent.  Are you primarily relying on talent from countries which cannot support the talent needs of the future, due to low birthrates, inferior education systems or inflexible labor laws?  Should you advise management to consider shifting resources from one country to another, more promising talent supplier over time?  What can you do internally to help manage talent better to avoid a crisis or shortage?

There is a lot more information in the full report, and on the interactive site, which allows you to examine the ranking by each factor.  It’s worth the time to read the report.  Talent management is and will continue to be the key issue for human resources in the modern age.  I encourage you to post your thoughts, comments and questions.

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