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2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index focuses on talent and technology

First global cities ranking launched: Copenhagen, Zurich, Helsinki & San Francisco take top spots

Middle East, Asia, Europe
16 January 2017

INSEAD, The Business School for the World, today released the fourth edition of Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI). Produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI), the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.  

The GTCI measures how countries grow, attract and retain talent, providing a resource for decision makers to develop strategies for boosting their talent competitiveness. The theme of this fourth edition of the GTCI is Talent and Technology: Shaping the Future of Work.

The 2017 report explores the effects of technological change on talent competitiveness, arguing that while jobs at all levels continue to be replaced by machines, technology is also creating new opportunities. However, people and organisations will need to adapt to a working environment in which technology know-how, people skills, flexibility and collaboration are key to success, and in which horizontal networks are replacing hierarchies as the new leadership norm. Governments and business players need to work together to build educational systems and labour market policies that are fit for purpose.  

Switzerland and Singapore occupy the top spots in GTCI 2017, with four Nordic countries in the top 10 (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway). The United Kingdom and the United States rank third and fourth respectively.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2017 Rankings: Top Ten

 1 Switzerland 6 Australia
 2 Singapore 7 Luxembourg
 3 United Kingdom 8 Denmark
 4 United States 9 Finland
 5 Sweden 10 Norway


High ranking countries share key traits, including educational systems that meet the needs of the economy, employment policies that favour flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship, and high connectedness of stakeholders in business and government.

Commenting on these results, Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD, said: “With this fourth edition, the GTCI report has clearly reached the level of international recognition we were aiming for when it was first launched. By focusing on ‘technology and talent’, this year’s report points at some of the most challenging issues that the world economy will face in the coming years, having to combine the creation of new job opportunities and sustainable growth, while offering new generations the possibility to live and work in a world that reflects the values they believe in. As the report underlines, the role of education will remain fundamental to reach this complex set of goals. This is a quest in which INSEAD intends to fully play its role as a provider of talent and leadership.”

Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director of Global Indices at INSEAD, and co-editor of the report, commented: “Technology is changing the ways we live and work, though not always in a spectacular fashion: the emergence of a ubiquitous internet, connected objects (e.g. self-driven cars), and virtual teams working from remote locations on a daily basis has been progressive and almost ‘invisible”. This is one of the reasons why they are affecting the world of work so deeply. Yet, to paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘news about the death of work have been largely exaggerated’: talent readiness and talent competitiveness will largely determine which economies will be leading in the race to turn technological advances into job creation.”

Paul Evans, The Shell Chair Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD, and Academic Director and co-editor of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, said: “Routine work is being taken over by algorithms and machines, but this creates new opportunities for connected, innovative work. But our school system, dating from the factory age, prepares our children for routine work rather than for creativity and projects, also neglecting to foster the learning-how-to-learn mentality that is needed in a world where people will have multiple careers during their lives”. 

Alain Dehaze, Adecco Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “The fast advance of automation and artificial intelligence is the source of the most disruptive changes of our time in the way we live and work. The transition will be rocky, so governments and business must act. Education system reforms are urgently needed to provide the right technical and people skills, and the ability to adapt to change. As a multi-career reality becomes the norm, workers must boost employability by committing to life-long learning. At the same time, employment policies must combine employers’ need for flexibility with social protection. Only by working together will we respond to the challenges, unleash the power of work and boost prosperity.” 

Su-Yen Wong, CEO of Human Capital Leadership Institute, said: “Technology has a profound impact on the nature and structure of work. In this digital era where work is constantly evolving, a premium is placed not on employees who possess the highest level of technical competencies, but on those who have the ability to learn and re-learn on the job. Many employees will find themselves facing technological and structural unemployment if they do not re-invent themselves. To harness the power of human capital, governments and companies alike must inculcate a culture of continuous learning in the workforce, and also help individuals who do not possess the right skill sets for the future to reskill.”

As successful transformational change is most likely to occur where there are strong ecosystems, cities and regions are showing the way in talent competitiveness. They frequently enjoy higher financial independence and economic growth rates than the countries in which they are located, are able to focus on improving quality of life, and tend to have more agile decision making and innovative branding abilities. To further explore the dynamics that turn cities into talent magnets, this year the partners launched the inaugural Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI).

The first edition of the GCTCI includes 46 cities, with Copenhagen placing first, followed by Zurich and Helsinki. San Francisco and Los Angeles are the two American cities in the top ten, ranking 4th and 8th respectively. Sydney and Singapore, ranking 12th and 19th respectively, lead the way in Asia-Pacific. Whereas the talent performance of cities was measured across a series of dimensions, all of the top ten cities combine high quality of life, high connectivity, and high levels of opportunities for international exposure and careers.

Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index 2017 Rankings: Top Ten

 1 Copenhagen 6Madrid
 2 Zurich 7Paris
 3 Helsinki 8Los Angeles
 4 San Francisco 9Eindhoven 
 5 Gothenburg 10Dublin

Bruno Lanvin, the author of this special section of the report on GCTCI, underlines that “Although the initial version of GCTCI presented this year will undoubtedly undergo significant improvements in the coming years, it offers a vivid picture of a world in which talent moves not only from country to country but also from city to city, often across national borders. Cities are hence emerging as global players on the talent competition scene; the initial GCTCI rankings show that although megacities such as San Francisco, Madrid or Paris are among the leaders, smaller cities such as Copenhagen, Zurich, Gothenburg, or Dublin are competitors to be reckoned with. They are cities where talents can find excellent career opportunities, good connectivity (broadband and transport) and a high quality of life for themselves and their families.”

By analysing the countries in the index, several patterns and trends emerge, summarised as follows:

  • Technology and hyper-connectivity are changing the nature of work: along with demographic, economic and social factors, they are driving the rise of a more independent and dispersed workforce. Flexibility is the watchword of our age, as we are shifting from an environment in which work was based on traditional (salaried) employment to one where 30% of the USA and European working population are free agents. 
  • We must think beyond automation: it is not simply about technology. We are experiencing a profound transformation of society, organisations, careers, education and employment. Organizations become more flat and interconnected; results and collaboration win over authority and hierarchy; and a ‘multi-career’ has become the norm.
  • Technical skills PLUS social/project competence are crucial for the new talent profile since innovation increasingly comes from collaboration. As the world we live in is so unpredictable, young people must be empowered by ‘learning how to learn’, along with creativity, problem solving and communication skills. Curricula must consist of experiential and project based approaches, including work-based training opportunities, such as apprenticeship systems. In the multi-career age, moreover, life-long learning is a must. 
  • Educational and labour market policies are the key challenges of transformational change: cooperation between government, business and educational institutions is critical to ensure rapid reform of the education system and to design employment policies that combine labour market flexibility with social protection.
  • The first (beta) version of GCTCI offers an unusual picture of how cities compete for talent: there are many small cities amongst the top performers in the GCTCI (7/10 have less than 400,000 inhabitants); top performers combine the best of both worlds (high quality of life combined with opportunities for international exposure and careers); and a remarkably high number of Scandinavian cities (3) feature in the top 5, having benefited from concerted strategies for attracting and retaining talent.

For more information on the Global Talent Competitiveness Index and to download the full report, please visit:

Follow twitter: #GTCI for updates

Download the GTCI 2017 report at this link
Download the GTCI 2017 Infographic at this link
Watch the GTCI 2017 Video graphic at this link


About Adecco

The Adecco Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is the world’s leading provider of workforce solutions. With more than 33,000 FTE employees and around 5,100 branches in 60 countries and territories around the world, The Adecco Group offers a wide variety of services, connecting approximately 700,000 associates with our clients every day. The services offered fall into the broad categories of temporary staffing, permanent placement, career transition and talent development, as well as outsourcing and consulting. The Adecco Group is a Fortune Global 500 company.
Adecco Group AG is registered in Switzerland (ISIN: CH0012138605) and listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ADEN).

About The Human Capital Leadership Institute

The Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) is an aggregator and neutral player in the human capital ecosystem. HCLI offers the unique ability to bring together multiple perspectives and voices from business, government and academia, offering thought leadership and insights on understanding Asia, successfully doing business in Asia, and its implications on leadership and human capital strategies for Asia. Through its efforts, the Institute aims to develop global leaders with a strong understanding of leading in Asia, as well as to build Asian leaders with the ability to lead on the global stage. HCLI is a strategic alliance between the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore Management University (SMU).

For more information, please visit


About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Our research, teaching and partnerships reflect this global perspective and cultural diversity.

With locations in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), and now North America (San Francisco), INSEAD's business education and research spans four regions. Our 165 renowned Faculty members from 42 countries inspire more than 1,500 degree participants annually in our Master in Management,  MBA, Global Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance and Executive Master in Change) and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD Executive Education programmes each year.

INSEAD continues to conduct cutting-edge research and innovate across all our programmes. We provide business leaders with the knowledge and awareness to operate anywhere. Our core values drive academic excellence and serve the global community as The Business School for the World.

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