2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index: Talent diversity and competitiveness will fuel the future of work. Canada ranks 15th out of 119 countries

  • Developed, high-income countries are still the global talent champions
  • Zurich, Stockholm, Oslo take top spots in the cities’ ranking
  • Ottawa ranks 24th out of 45 cities
  • Diversity holds untapped potential for competitiveness

Davos, Switzerland, 22 January 2018: The 2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report found that Switzerland still leads the way in terms of talent competitiveness, followed by Singapore and the United States. In general, European countries continue to dominate the GTCI rankings, with 15 in the top 25. This year’s edition also revealed that the top ten countries have several key characteristics in common and share one major feature: they all have a well-developed educational system providing the social and collaboration skills needed for employability in today’s labour market.

On further examination, there are several other characteristics in common between the top-ranking countries:

  • A flexible regulatory and business landscape
  • Employment policies which combine flexibility and social protection
  • External and internal openness

Canada, ranking 15th overall on the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, is one of the top performers for luring foreign talent, which is achieved because of a good balance between external openness (attracting businesses and people) and internal openness (social inclusion and gender equality). The country is the 2nd most tolerant of immigrants in the world (New Zealand being the 1st) and, consequently, Canada attracts some of the best and brightest talent from abroad (ranking 9th in brain gain). The share of tertiary-educated population is high and employability is good, which means that Canada is developing and attracting the skills needed by the economy. Canada has many world-renowned universities, although it can still improve its production of vocational and technical skills.

In addition to the talent competitiveness ranking, this year’s report investigated the theme of ‘Diversity for competitiveness’. Three types of diversity were distinguished: cognitive, identity and preference (or value). The theme of diversity (collaboration between people with different personalities, knowledge sets, experiences and perspectives) was chosen because it plays a critical role in linking talent policies to innovation strategies. Paying attention to demographic diversity nurtures a sustainable and innovative future and helps organizations to retain and develop talent. Nevertheless, the report highlights that there is a cost to diversity: people are often ill equipped to collaborate with others who are different from themselves.

The report, published today by INSEAD, the Business School for the World, in partnership with the Adecco Group and Tata Communications, is a comprehensive annual benchmarking measuring how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent, providing a unique resource for decision makers to understand the global talent competitiveness picture and develop strategies for boosting their competitiveness.

Top 20 rankings in detail and results for specific variables

The 2018 edition of GTCI includes 68 variables (65 in 2017), covering 119 countries and 90 cities (respectively 118 and 46 in 2017). This year again, GTCI scores are led by developed, high-income countries.

  • Switzerland maintains its number 1 position, followed by Singapore and the United States.
  • European countries continue to dominate the GTCI rankings, with 15 of them in the top 25.
  • Among the non-European countries ranking high this year, are Australia (11th), New Zealand (12th), Canada (15th), the United Arab Emirates (17th), and Japan (20th) for example.
  • Latin America often leads in producing female graduates (Argentina ranks 5th on that variable).
  • Efforts in education (compared to GDP per capita) are high in Africa (Botswana is 1st, Lesotho 2nd, Senegal 5th) showing that the challenges have been correctly identified in that area, though the effectiveness of those investments can still be improved.

2018 Top GTCI 25 Rankings

The index assesses the policies and practices that enable a country to attract, develop and retain both ‘Technical/Vocational skills’ and the ‘Global Knowledge skills’ associated with innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership – the talent that contributes to productivity and prosperity.

Overall ranking Country Score
1 Switzerland 79.90
2 Singapore 78.42
3 United States of America 75.34
4 Norway 74.56
5 Sweden 74.32
6 Finland 73.95
7 Denmark 73.79
8 United Kingdom 73.11
9 Netherlands 72.56
10 Luxembourg 71.64
11 Australia 71.61
12 New Zealand 71.52
13 Ireland 71.38
14 Iceland 70.48
15 Canada 69.63
16 Belgium 69.56
17 United Arab Emirates 68.88
18 Austria 68.63
19 Germany 67.77
20 Japan 62.63
21 France 62.61
22 Estonia 61.93
23 Qatar 61.90
24 Israel 61.79
25 Czech Republic 60.02

This year’s leader in the Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index is Zurich (2nd last year). 8 out of the top 10 ranking cities are located in Europe, and 2 in the United States of America. High-ranking cities show similarities. As in the case of countries, over time, higher GDP levels naturally lead to higher technology penetration, creating ecosystems with better quality education, business, healthcare and infrastructure. This virtuous cycle leads to stronger talent competitiveness. In addition, higher-ranked universities attract a superior calibre of teaching and research staff, providing more skilled talent to the labour market. The energy and innovativeness of local leadership (including mayors and ‘talent agencies’) can also play a significant role. The impact of dense and efficient information networks is particularly important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, as shown by the performance of ‘smart cities’ such as Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Doha.

In Canada, Ottawa is ranked 24th out of 45 cities. Key strengths contributing to Ottawa’s ranking include environmental quality, low monthly expenses, and a large population and workforce with tertiary education. Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, is known to offer job opportunities in government, health and education. Despite this, the city ranks low for its presence of Forbes Global 2000 companies.

Rank City Score
1 Zurich (Switzerland) 71.0
2 Stockholm (Sweden) 68.2
3 Oslo (Norway) 68.1
4 Copenhagen (Denmark) 67.1
5 Helsinki (Finland) 66.8
6 Washington DC (United States) 66.5
7 Dublin (Ireland) 66.1
8 San Francisco (United States) 63.4
9 Paris (France) 63.2
10 Brussels (Belgium) 62.7

The challenge of diversity

The in-depth supplementary analysis of the 2018 report reveals how organisations, cities and nations are approaching diversity. It reveals that diversity is not an end in itself, but must always be accompanied by a culture of inclusion in order to flourish and have real impact. Targets and statistics cannot replace cultural acceptance and openness.

GTCI findings, however, show that there is no absolute model for diversity and inclusion. Switzerland, for example, does not score as well as its top GTCI position would imply on leadership opportunities for women. The Nordics score remarkably well on most variables related to collaboration, internal openness, social mobility and gender equality, but they struggle in external openness, and hence in attracting talent.

“Diversity is a crucial leverage for innovation”. Peter Zemsky, Deputy Dean and Dean of Innovation of INSEAD, stresses that “Frameworks for organisational leadership emphasise the behavioural importance of networking externally rather than internally. Today, fuelled by the explosion of information in the knowledge economy, exploiting local innovation opportunities is becoming more important for the competitive advantage of corporations than exploiting R&D at corporate headquarters”.

Alain Dehaze, Adecco Group Chief Executive Officer, “Focusing on diversity and inclusion is crucial to overcome the fractures and inequalities of our age. This means nurturing a culture of inclusion, starting at home and school, fighting bias and developing social and collaborative skills, which are key to unleash the power of work and will make the future work for everyone.”

“Embracing diversity is crucial to creating innovative strategies and ultimately contributes to the success of organizations,” says Gilbert Boileau, President at Adecco Canada, “It is important for organizations to nurture a culture of diversity and inclusion to develop and prosper. I am proud that our nation’s capital, Ottawa, is ranked in the top 25 in the Global City Talent Competitiveness Index. Positive factors contributing to Ottawa’s ranking includes environmental quality and affordable living costs. Ottawa is also ranked high for its educated population, which is not only reflective within the city, but also in Canada’s overall GTCI ranking. Canada’s strong workforce composed of a large population with post-secondary education contributes to our ability to grow talent. Canadian organizations should strive to create strategies that will nurture and retain its talent.”

Vinod Kumar, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Communications, asserts the view that: “As digital transformation becomes a priority for more and more organisations, highly automated technologies fuelled by AI are entering the workplace. As humans and machines start to work side-by-side, businesses must start viewing talent and diversity generated competitiveness as extending beyond humankind to include machine. In accepting the primacy of digital infrastructure, neither talent nor diversity will be considered as exclusive to people alone.”

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About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world's leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to change lives and to transform organisations. A global perspective and cultural diversity are reflected in all aspects of our research and teaching.

With campuses in Europe (Fontainebleau), Asia (Singapore) and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), INSEAD's business education and research spans three continents. The school’s 145 renowned Faculty members from 40 countries inspire more than 1,400 degree participants annually in its MBA, Executive MBA, Executive Master in Finance, Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Change and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD's executive education programmes each year. In addition, INSEAD participates in academic partnerships with number of universities around the world. INSEAD became a pioneer of international business education with the graduation of the first MBA class on the in 1960. Around the world and over the decades, INSEAD continues to conduct cutting edge research and to innovate across all its programmes to provide business leaders with the knowledge and sensitivity to operate anywhere. These core values have enabled INSEAD to become truly "The Business School for the World”. INSEAD’s MBA programme is ranked #1 by the Financial Times in 2016 and 2017.


About The Adecco Group

The Adecco Group is the world’s leading HR solutions partner. We provide more than 700,000 people with permanent and flexible employment every day. With more than 33,000 employees in 60 countries, we transform the world of work one job at a time. Our colleagues serve more than 100,000 organisations with the talent, HR services and cutting-edge technology they need to succeed in an ever-changing global economy. As a Fortune Global 500 company, we lead by example, creating shared value that meets social needs while driving business innovation. Our culture of inclusivity, fairness and teamwork empowers individuals and organisations, fuels economies, and builds better societies. These values resonate with our employees, who voted us number 2 on the Great Place to Work® - World’s Best Workplaces 2017 list. We make the future work for everyone.

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About Adecco Canada

Adecco is one of the leading and most comprehensive staffing and workforce solutions company in the country specializing in search and placement services for temporary and permanent personnel, contingent workforce management, master vendor programs (MVP) delivery, professional resource augmentation, contractor management and recruitment consulting.

Adecco operates across numerous industry verticals and leverages its specialized divisions to offer specialized recruitment solutions, designed to maximize operational efficiencies in the areas of: engineering, IT, skilled trades, professional, management and general staffing.


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Tata Communications Limited along with its subsidiaries (Tata Communications) is a leading global provider of A New World of Communications™. With a leadership position in emerging markets, Tata Communications leverages its advanced solutions capabilities and domain expertise across its global network to deliver managed solutions to multi-national enterprises and communications service providers.

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