China, U.K. Cited as Rising Forces in Global Talent

October 25, 2007
China and the United Kingdom are about as politically and culturally different as two countries can get, but from a workforce management perspective, they have something in common. During the next five years, both nations are expected to climb in the rankings of the Global Talent Index, a first-ever joint report from Heidrick & Struggles and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“The Global Talent Index is a key tool to help HR experts track and identify talent,” says Wendy Murphy of Heidrick & Struggles in New York. “They can gain a bird’s-eye perspective of what is going on overseas.”

The index, which was released in late September, analyzes various dynamics for 30 countries—demographics; quality of compulsory education systems and universities; trends in foreign direct investment; quality of the environment to nurture talent; ability to attract talent; and the mobility and relative openness of the labor market. It ranks each nation for 2007 and projects where each one will be in five years.

The U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Sweden top the 2007 list. Each country has a healthy economy that can give workers generous salaries and provide an environment for nurturing talent, Murphy says. China is currently ranked eighth on the list, and India holds the No. 10 spot.

It’s expected that a boost in foreign direct investment and an improving environment for nurturing talent will propel the U.K. to No. 2 in 2012, moving ahead of Canada and the Netherlands. China is expected to move up two spots, to No. 6.

Other findings challenge popular notions, including the rise of what’s collectively called “BRIC”—Brazil, Russia, India and China. Analysts contend these nations will leverage their huge populations and resources to eventually eclipse today’s most powerful economies.

Yet, there are some concerns regarding BRIC. While China is expected to climb, India will remain at its current No. 10 spot overall, faring better in some categories. Russia will hold at No. 18 in 2012, though its index scoring stagnates in some categories. Perhaps most surprising, Brazil is expected to slip two positions from 23 to 25.

South America’s most populous nation faces challenges in its ability to attract top talent, and is seeing a drop in the quality of its universities and business schools. Russia will continue to grapple with an overall deterioration in its compulsory education system, which has been ongoing since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the study shows.

—Gina Ruiz