What are the most talent-competitive countries in the world?

By Matt Dallisson, 24/02/2020

Over the past few years, an increasing number of countries have adopted AI strategies. To ensure that AI is a force for good, these strategies must be value-based and principle-led. From a labour market point of view, efforts should be geared to integrating rather than replacing the human factor. Adaptive talent – those skills that are exclusively human like creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, leadership, empathy and compassion – is what makes the difference in addressing complex problems and seizing distant opportunities.

The top 10 countries in this year’s rankings are high-income economies that perform well across both the input (i.e. market landscape, education) and output (i.e. employability, talent impact) pillars of the GTCI model. Stability among the highest ranked nations continues, with slight shifts amongst the top 10 and the addition of a third non-European country: Australia (10), a leader in formal education and talent attraction.

Focusing on AI, the report aims to capture the level of technological adoption, investment in new technologies and robot density. Obviously these are not perfect measures, but they act as proxies that can be tracked at a global level. Not entirely surprisingly, the top of the rankings includes countries that perform well in these variables. For instance, the United States (2)* tops the list in technology utilisation and investment in emerging technologies. Singapore (3) leads in robot density.

Switzerland (1) remains the leader across the input and output pillars, although it doesn’t score as well in terms of gender equality or tolerance of minorities. Sweden (4) continues to perform well in the rankings, especially in terms of both regulatory and market landscapes. Denmark (5) is a leader in retaining talent. Vocational and technical skills help both the Netherlands (6) and Finland (7) into the top 10. Luxembourg (8) scores well in innovation and entrepreneurialism but needs improvement in formal education. The last of the Nordics, Norway (9), is a leader in retaining home-grown talent.

The 2020 GTCI includes a longitudinal analysis (click to view) for the second year; it’s easier to spot trends when looking at a longer time frame. Now the report compares two time periods: 2015-2017 and 2018-2020. A widening gap between the talent champions and the rest is visible as talent inequalities appear to be broadening. Median scores from the three highest scoring regions (Asia/Oceania, Europe and North America) have increased over time, whereas overall scores for countries in Central and South America and Africa have declined.

Malaysia (26) and Costa Rica (37) are two upper-middle-income countries also in the champion quadrant while most other upper-middle-income countries are laggards. China (42) sits on the line between mover and champion. India (72) is in the mover quadrant and Brazil (80) is in the laggard one.

This year’s Global City Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI) has grown from a ranking of 114 cities to 155 cities. This year saw improvements in methodology, which explains some significant shifts among the GCTCI top 10.

Only three European cities are in this year’s top 10; with three in Asia and the US with four. Cities with a proven ability for future readiness tend to be towards the top, as are many large cities. Urban hubs with activity in AI or advanced technologies shine in these rankings. Indeed, the top 5 talent competitive cities are known for hosting emerging technologies, including fintech and medtech: New York (1), London (2), Singapore (3), San Francisco (4) and Boston (5).

Bilbao’s (83) successful AI-based talent strategy combined with adaptive talent is a recipe for success. Building on the Guggenheim effect, this city in Spain’s Basque Country has attracted and developed innovative digital services for the future. It has an entrepreneurship hub, as well as a strong local community of knowledge industry workers.

The degree of citizens’ acceptance of AI varies around the globe. In many respects, AI is frontier technology, ahead of the legal and regulatory efforts it calls for. Cities are the natural test beds where practical applications and social acceptability can be assessed. The examples of Bilbao and Berlin (39) in the report highlight the importance of successful development of AI talent and how these cities attract increasing international attention in this regard.

When creating a strategy for AI at any level, it is critical to create a narrative about the future of jobs that emphasises the possibilities (and limitations) of AI rather than instilling fear. The broader workforce – including older adults and women – will need the opportunities, skills and empowerment to fulfil these new ways of working created by AI. The hope is that the future of work will include AI giving more meaning to jobs and encouraging that very human characteristic of cooperation.

This content was originally published here.