Switzerland ranked top destination for workforce talent

The quality of education in universities such as EPFL (pictured) is a big factor, the report said. Keystone

Switzerland has once again taken the top spot in the World Talent Ranking, an annual rundown of the ability of countries to attract, develop, and retain top-performing staff.

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Published on Monday by the IMD Business School in Lausanne, the report analyses over 60 countries according to various criteria important to professional workers, and finds that Switzerland comes out top overall for the fifth year in a row.

Of the three main baskets, the alpine nation comes out first in both the ‘appeal’ and ‘readiness’ categories, which track factors such as quality of life, taxation, security, education of the workforce, and competence of management.

Predictably, the country did badly on the cost-of-living indicator – coming 60th – but not to the extent that its overall attractiveness was compromised.

In the ‘investment and development’ basket, Switzerland ranked fifth, a slide that the authors said largely reflected “the country’s public expenditure on education” and “the quality of primary and secondary education (measured by pupil-teacher ratio)”.

Switzerland’s major strength in this area stemmed from its implementation of apprenticeship schemes, prioritization of workers’ training by business, and the quality of its health infrastructure, the report said.

Europe leads the way

Overall, Switzerland came out on top of a very Europe-heavy league table, with 11 of the top 15 talent-competitive economies coming from the continent. Denmark and Belgium came in second and third respectively.

The US came in 16th, while Great Britain dropped to 21st place, largely due to worsening appeal and a low score on education investment. China came in 40th, while Venezuela propped up the rankings.

According to a press release, the top countries all share similar characteristics of attraction: “they invest significantly in their outstanding education systems, they offer a superior quality of life, and they offer substantial opportunities for career advancement throughout the entire professional life span.”

The methodology and results are drawn from decades of publicly available statistics, along with a survey of 6,000 executives worldwide.

Swiss business

IMD is a private executive business school founded in 1990. It is one of Switzerland's most well-known higher education institutes, and is also highly ranked internationally for its business programmes. The Talent Ranking is produced by IMD's World Competitiveness Center, which is "dedicated to the advancement of knowledge on world competitiveness by offering benchmarking services for countries and companies using the latest and most relevant data on the subject".

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