Asia risks losing its competitiveness on the world stage if it continues to neglect the development of its own business talent, a major new study has shown.

For the second year in a row, the region has just one representative in the top 10 of the World Talent Ranking , produced by leading global business school IMD.

The annual report assesses how 61 countries develop, attract and retain the talent pool necessary for businesses to maximize their performance.

Of 61 countries, Hong Kong claims 10th spot in this year’s ranking, gaining two positions since 2015, but every other Asian economy has lost ground during the past 12 months.


Singapore – the region’s only top-10 entry last year – has fallen five places to 15th, Malaysia from 15th to 19th, Taiwanfrom 23rd to 24th and Thailand from 34th to 37th.

Despite its standing as one of the world’s most powerful economies, mainland China is down in 43rd – a fall of three positions – with Indonesia a further place behind.

Professor Arturo Bris , Director of IMD’s World Competitiveness Center, which publishes the report, identified lack of investment in local talent as a crucial failing.

He said: “There’s no doubt that many Asian countries, Singapore arguably chief among them, remain among the very best attractors of talent from abroad.

“There’s no doubt, too, that they’re able to improve their overall competitiveness as a result of the knowledge and experience this foreign talent brings.

“But this isn’t enough to compensate for the lack of development of local talent, particularly with regard to the paucity of public sector investment in education.

“This and related issues mean Asian countries perform poorly in some of the most important measures that we use to gauge an economy’s overall competitiveness.”

Rankings are aggregated from performance in three categories – investment/development, appeal and readiness – compiled from a wide range of factors. These include education, apprenticeship, employee training, worker motivation, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, pay, tax rates and brain-drain.

Switzerland, Denmark,, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg and Hong Kong – just ahead of Germany – make up the 2016 top 10.

Professor Bris said Singapore’s slide out of the elite over the past year was driven mainly by its failure to invest sufficiently in both primary and secondary education.

Explaining China’s consistently poor ranking, he added: “Despite increasing business opportunities, China still isn’t a big attractor of foreign talent when compared with talent competitiveness countries.

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