As business and political leaders converge on Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum that begins on Wednesday, the host country is stepping up its game. On Tuesday the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2015-16 ranked Switzerland number 1 in the world for talent mobility. The GTCI model measures how well countries “Enable, Attract, Grow and Retain” talent, particularly focusing on expatriate skilled workers. Switzerland was the previous year’s winner, and its success is not surprising given that close to one quarter of the country’s population was born abroad.
The GTCI ranked Switzerland 1st in the Enable and Retain pillars, 5th in the Grow pillar, and 7th in the Attract pillar. While overall this is a resounding endorsement of the country’s economic and political policies (at least those relevant to work and immigration), nevertheless there are areas that can and should be improved upon.
Performance in the Attract pillar (7th) is good in terms of the External openness (5th) sub-pillar, with the country showing an excellent capacity to attract and retain global talent (despite a negative referendum on immigration 18 months ago), while this pillar shows a relatively poorer performance in the Internal openness sub-pillar (22nd) – there is good social mobility (2nd), but gender equality indicators such as Female graduates (76th) and Gender earnings gap (36th) lag behind.
Alain Dehaze, CEO of Adecco Group (a partner of the GTCI), stressed the great challenges and opportunities of the fast-changing work world. “200 million people are unemployed and about 1 in 2 jobs are at risk due to automation. As digitalization and ageing trends advance, GTCI confirms the key importance of talent mobility to boost competitiveness and balance surpluses and deficits of skills across the world,” he noted.
But with close competition from Singapore, Luxembourg, the U.S., and Denmark (the next four highest-ranking countries), not to mention aspiring tech hubs elsewhere in the world, Switzerland is not resting on its laurels. To ensure its leadership, it must continue to improve its offerings. To this end, on Monday privately-funded Switzerland Innovation debuted five technology parks. They are all near universities or research institutes, which will provide support, as will the federal and cantonal governments. (The federal parliament has loaned $350 million to fund R&D at the parks in stages between now and 2024.) Additionally, 19 Swiss firms are providing financial backing, including Nestlé, Novartis, Roche, Credit Suisse, and UBS.
A main focus of the Davos forum will be on the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, involving A.I., quantum computing, the internet of things, and biotechnology, to name just a few simultaneous advances. Much of the rest of the world might not be prepared for it, but Switzerland will be.