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October 06, 2007

Richard Florida

Global Talent Index

« London Calling | Main | Old Master, Young Geniues »

TalentmapHeidrick and Struggles and the Economist Intelligence Unit have teamed up on an interesting new report on global talent (hat tip: Irene Tinagli).  The report rates and ranks 30 countries, including emerging economies,on talent metrics such as basic education, quality of univesities, talent attraction labor market flexibility, mobility and related measures. They find that the labor market in key fields is now global and leading firms also search for talent on a global basis. Here are some of the key findings from the report.

  • Overall Ranking: The US leads in the overall global talent ranking, followed by the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden. China (6th) and India (10th) also do quite well, leading the study to conclude the BRICs story is really an "IC" story.  However, China and India's strong showing is mainly due to their population size, specifically the number of working people age 20-59.
  • Basic Education: The US ranks 8th on the quality of "compulsory education;" with the the UK and Canada taking the top two spots.
  • Universities: The US, UK and Sweden lead in quality of universities, with Canada in 6th place.The US, Canada and Netherlands lead in the "quality of the environment to nuture talent."
  • Talent Attraction: The US takes the top spot in the "proclivity to attract talent" followed by Sweden and Canada.
  • Mobility and Openness: Interestingly, the US lags in the mobility and relative openness of the labor market, coming in 9th just ahead of India and China and just behind France.  Canada take the top spot, with the UK in second.


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I would think that most of America's high ranking is a result of the ability to attract talent which is more of a "borrowing" of talent from the rest of the world. The main reason that foreigners that have this talent want to come to America is because of the American dollar's position as a world reserve currency that is a store of value and worth something in their home countries. However, because borrowed money from foreigners went into nonproductive investments such as these subprime, alt-a, ARM mortgages that millions of Americans are going to default on the value of the dollar is in question. A severe dollar decline will cause America's borrowed talent to leave for other countries which would send America's talent ranking down considerably.


Robert makes a good point. In fact, the US dollar devaluation has already occurred. The Canadian dollar was worth $0.63 USD 5 years ago (that is 63c American could buy a Canadian dollar). Today the Canadian dollar is worth $1.02. The US Dollar has fallen in value against most other major (and minor) world currencies. While their might be other reasons for the talented from around the world to venture to the USA, their exchange-rate adjusted earning power is typically no longer one of the draws.

The stats in the global talent index are likely historical (based on the past 5 years, for example). In 5 years time, the same study may find the US being much less successful at attracting foreign talent.

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