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Brain drain: developing countries are becoming increasingly unattractive

The gap between developed and developing countries in terms of their ability to attract and retain skilled workers has widened in recent years.

"Our analyzes over the past six years show that the competitive differences between industrialized and developing countries have increased," says Bruno Lanvin, responsible for the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) of the Insead business school, in an interview with EURACTIV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos .

Insead, the Indian Tata Communications Group and the Adecco Group jointly published the sixth annual GTCI competition index on Monday.

The index measures how countries and cities develop, attract and retain young talent. For this purpose, a total of 125 countries and 114 cities across all income groups and levels of development are assessed.

In other words, the study shows how large and small companies, nations and cities are promoting entrepreneurial talent in the age of digital transformation, ”summarizes Lanvin.

Switzerland leads the index, followed by Singapore, the United States, Norway and Denmark. In terms of cities, Washington is seen as the “top performing” city in the world, followed by Copenhagen, Oslo, Vienna and Zurich.

“Cities are proving to be more agile than states. They develop into real talent centers, ”observes Lanvin. Thanks to their greater flexibility and adaptability to new trends, cities are becoming increasingly important in the development of young talent.

When asked why developing countries are becoming less and less attractive for young and qualified workers, Lanvin points out the lack of continuity in their education policy: “The index shows that some emerging countries are improving their rankings for five or six years in a row. And then suddenly everything stagnates again or turns around. That's because there are ministers first who want to pump money into education - and then another minister follows and stops the whole process. "

In addition, there are “cumulative effects” that benefit the developed countries: “If you are a place or a country that is already very good at dealing with talent, then you can also find business opportunities, a high quality of life, a good one Provide infrastructure. And one thing is clear: word of mouth is effective. "

Investments in education and infrastructure are needed

So what should developing countries do to reverse this situation?

Lanvin takes South Korea as an example: “In the 1960s, South Korea was one of the least developed countries in the world. It had the same per capita income as Ghana. What did the South Koreans do? They invested in education and technology. That is the secret combination. This example shows that it is possible. "

For Enrico Bonatti, Senior Vice President Strategy & Sales Operations at Tata Communications, the report above all shows the need for action on the subject of infrastructures. These urgently need to be improved in developing countries.

But: “Not many countries are successful [in building such business and educational infrastructures]. Even large emerging countries like Brazil or India have problems. Because it's a long way; it takes years to create an infrastructure. And if there is no sustained effort, then you can observe a certain yo-yo effect, ”explains Bonatti.

German federalism as a driver of competition

Within the EU, the Scandinavian countries lead the index. Germany ranks 14th in the overall ranking; France follows in 21st place.

"France and Germany are two economies that are both similar and very different," said Lanvin. France is trying to carry out reforms, but has "never been able to benefit from the consensus between trade unions and employers, as is the case in Germany."

Furthermore, as France is a highly centralized country, the decision-making process is top-down. In Germany, the 16 federal states have more power, especially in the field of education.

From Lanvin's point of view, this is a competitive advantage: “The federal states can decide on their own education policy. That is why you can see healthy competition between countries as to which is “the best”. That creates dynamism. "

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