As developed countries increasingly specialize in high-tech sectors, the battle to attract talented workers has become one of the starkest realities in the corporate world. In this «war for talent», which countries are best prepared to face the future, and what is the position of Spain?
The Economist Intelligence Unit and Heidrick & Struggles have developed an instrument called the «Global Talent Index» that reflects not only how well countries are developing their domestic sources of talent at the present time, but also how this capability is evolving into the future. Their index includes the quality of compulsory education within the country, the quality of universities and business schools, the quality of hte environment to nurture talent, the mobility and relative openness of the labor market, the stock and flow of foreign direct investment, and the country´s proclivity to attracting talent.
According to this ranking, Spain was number 11 in the world in 2007 in its capacity to nurture native talent. The top 5 countries were, in order, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden. China ranked 8th, behind Australia and before France, and India was number 10, just before Spain.
However, these rankings are expected to evolve in the future. The projected Global Talent Index for 2012 sees the United Kingdom moving up to second place, behind the United States, and China moving ahead of Germany, into 6th place. Spain is projected to remain in its 11th-place spot, still just behind India.
The factors that keep Spain behind the leaders in the talent index are not the quality of its compulsory education, which shows up relatively well, nor the stock and flow of foreign direct investment, where it ranks 6th in the world (10th in 2012). Even in procilivity for attracting talent (a combination of the technical skills of the workforce, employment growth and various measures of GDP), Spain ranks high (8th in the world).
Spain slides in the rankings in part due to the poor quality of its universities, and especially because of the lack of mobility and opennes of the labor market. This variable is defined in the ranking not in terms of the laws regulating hiring and firing, but as a function of the number of Spanish students studying overseas and the number of foreigners choosing to study in Spain; the language skills of the labor force, the hiring of foreign nationals and the openness of the economy (exports + imports /GDP). The combination of these factors leaves Spain in 20th position in the world, behind countries such as South Africa, Greece, Nigeria and Turkey; and its position is expected to decline by 2012, to 21st.