SINGAPORE’S aspiration to become a talent hub got a boost from the latest World Talent Ranking by Swiss business school IMD, which declared the labour-scarce city Asia’s most talent-competitive economy in 2015.
Worldwide, Singapore has been ranked 10th among 61 economies which are best in developing, attracting and retaining talent based on three broad factors: “investment and development”; “appeal”; and “readiness”.
The first factor includes such criteria as spending on education, pupil-teacher ratio, apprenticeships, female labour force, and health infrastructure. The second – “appeal” – rests on indicators like cost of living, attracting and retaining talent, motivation, brain drain, quality of life, pay, income tax, and security.
Labour force growth, skilled labour, finance skills, international experience, competent senior managers, education system, science in school, language skills, student mobility and educational assessment are among measures that go into the third factor, “readiness”.
Globally, Singapore is ranked second in “readiness” but 18th on “appeal”, and 29th on “investment and development”.
“The country’s scores in most of the indicators of the investment and development factor seem low and cost of living is high – suggesting that Singapore currently has a large pool of talent that it has nurtured and attracted, but that this pool may shrink slightly in the future,” IMD said in a 115-page report.
Singapore is ranked especially low in public expenditure on education (56), pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools (44) and female labour force (35). In this factor, the only indicator it did well in is health infrastructure (3).
In “appeal”, the second factor which determines the talent-competitiveness ranking, Singapore scores low in cost of living (ranked 58) and personal income tax (37). It does great in attracting high-skilled foreigners (5), personal security and private property rights (6), and attracting and retaining talent (9).
In the “readiness” factor, IMD says Singapore has been consistently good at creating an education system – including university and management training – that meets the needs of a competitive economy and business community (3) and in sufficiently stressing science in schools (1).
It also performs above average in “student mobility inbound” (2) – measured by foreign tertiary-level students per 1,000 inhabitants – and educational assessment (2) based on PISA scores for 15-year-olds.
Switzerland, the most talent-competitive economy in the world, is ranked second in “investment and development”, and first in “appeal” and “readiness”.
Except for 2006, when it was ranked second, Switzerland has retained the top position since the ranking was launched in 2005.
Singapore was in second position in 2008. Its lowest ranking was 17th, in 2011 and 2013.
Others in the top 10 rankings this year include Denmark (2), Norway (4), the Netherlands (5), Finland (6), Germany (7), and Canada (8).
Apart from being rated the most talent-competitive economy in Asia, Singapore is also ahead of developed economies like Sweden (11), the US (14), the UK (21), and France (27).
Among other Asian economies in the rankings are Hong Kong (12), Malaysia (15), Taiwan (23), Japan (26), South Korea (31), and Thailand (34).