Learning is key to talent competitiveness

By Arturo Bris

The UK’s appeal to talent is declining. Foreign talent is looking elsewhere in the face of ongoing political turmoil and fears over the cost of living, while the quality of its education system means businesses are struggling to develop the skills of the domestic workforce.  


Our World Competitiveness Center research surveyed more than 5,000 executives from 63 countries, looking at how the world’s economies attract, retain and develop their workforces. In the latest World Talent Rankings, the UK has slipped to 28th out of 63 countries, with its European neighbours Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland making up the top three.  


When it comes to talent competitiveness, it’s important to remember that the main focus of our research is how well companies can fill the jobs they need. So when we talk about education and learning, there are some economies that have excellent education systems, but don’t adequately prepare people for the jobs companies need - France, for example.  


Secondly, we look at how well companies in those economies develop the skills of their existing people. How well do they prepare people to develop in their careers? We’re looking at to what extent skills, education and jobs match each other.  


Some of the countries doing this well as some of the smallest, such as Singapore, Denmark and Switzerland. They’re very different countries from different geographies, but what they all do well is that they have education systems that match the needs of their labour market. Take Switzerland for example. It needs bankers and engineers, so the Swiss education system prepares bankers and engineers. If you want to be an artist, you go elsewhere. This doesn’t make the Swiss education system the best, but it is the best for its own market.  


Another factor is agility. Countries like Singapore can move fast. When artificial intelligence became a hot topic, the Singaporean government was able to introduce an initiative to have AI taught in schools.  


Our research shows that whenever you have successful education reforms, they tend to happen from the bottom up. This means you need a certain social consensus for this to happen. If you look at the UK, the fragmentation on a political and social level means there is no consensus on what policies there should be. Both executives and talent feel this, so uncertainty is less attractive for talent. In Denmark or the Netherlands, everybody knows what the education and economic strategy is going to be ten years down the road. That’s good for attraction.  


Why learning is the future of work

We know that the skills needed to succeed at work are evolving fast and will continue to do so ever more rapidly.


At the heart of meeting this challenge is learning.


Without effective learning and development programmes, modern training methods and a culture that puts learning front and centre, reskilling and upskilling initiatives cannot succeed. Read our latest Whitepaper focussing on the Future of Learning.


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Future Talent Learning can help employees develop the human skills needed to transition from managing to leading. We provide immersive learning experiences for busy professionals at all levels. Our courses focus on the most in-demand human-centred skills that can be applied and practised in the flow of work. 


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