Channel NewsAsia

Singapore comes out tops in APAC for talent competitiveness: Study

It also placed second globally in the annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which ranked more than 100 countries according to their ability to develop, attract and retain talent. 

SINGAPORE: For the third year running, Singapore was ranked first in the Asia Pacific in a global index on talent competitiveness, trumping New Zealand and Australia. 

The annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), published by business school INSEAD with human resources firm Adecco and the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI), also placed the Republic second globally among more than 100 countries, according to a joint press release on Tuesday (Jan 26). 

Like the previous year, Switzerland took the top spot in the survey, while Luxembourg came in third after Singapore in the 2015-2016 survey. GTCI ranks the countries according to their ability to develop, attract and retain talent, the organisers said. 

They noted that Singapore had shown "exemplary performance, being consistently ranked top of this region", but the report also found that the city-state had room for improvement in terms of tolerance to migrants, empowerment of employees and increasing the pool of vocationally trained people.

DO MORE TO ATTRACT LOCAL TALENT HOME: HCLI CEO

The top three countries in Asia Pacific have all demonstrated openness in their economies to attracting talents, the organisers added. Close to 43 per cent of Singapore's population is born abroad, while New Zealand and Australia have approximately 17 per cent, the report showed.

HCLI CEO Wong Su-Yen said the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) would impact talent competition here. “Singapore’s attractiveness as a talent hub has in recent years faced strong competition from its neighbouring countries, and that is likely to intensify when talent is completely mobile in this region.”

She added that the country had seen a 33 per cent increase in the number of its citizens working and living abroad, signalling that policymakers could increase efforts to attract them back.

“This group of talent would offer a distinct and important combination of overseas work experience and strong local knowledge,” said Ms Wong. 

NEED FOR A "HOLISTIC PACKAGE" TO ATTRACT TALENT

Ms Wong told Channel NewsAsia that among the factors that go into the composite ranking, Singapore did well in terms of global knowledge skills. However, it did less well in terms of labour and vocational skills. 

Global knowledge skills are associated with knowledge workers in professional, managerial or leadership roles that require creativity and problem solving. Their economic impact is evaluated by indicators of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as high-value exports that rely on such qualities.

On the other hand, labour and vocational skills describe skills that have a technical or professional base acquired through vocational or professional training and experience. Their economic impact is measured by labour productivity, the relationship between pay and productivity and by mid-value exports that rely on such skills, according to the study.

"When you look at the economy, it's really important to balance these different elements," Ms Wong said.

"To have a competitive talent economy, you need to make sure the underlying infrastructure is there, but lifestyle and sustainability are also key factors. If you have a strong education system but the environmental aspect is not as strong, (the country) will not be a strong talent magnet. So it has to be a holistic package."

She listed language, a strong business environment, global knowledge skills, an educated workforce and good infrastructure as some of the factors that could attract talent.