Singapore ranked world No.3 for making most of workers

Office workers walking in Tanjong Pagar. A new index that measures a country's ability to make the most of its workers has ranked Singapore as the third most successful in the world and the best in Asia. -- ST FILE PHOTO: TED CHEN
Office workers walking in Tanjong Pagar. A new index that measures a country's ability to make the most of its workers has ranked Singapore as the third most successful in the world and the best in Asia. -- ST FILE PHOTO: TED CHEN

WEF index sees it follow Switzerland and Finland in making most of workers

A new index that measures a country's ability to make the most of its workers has ranked Singapore as the third most successful in the world and the best in Asia.

The Human Capital Index, developed by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), put Singapore just behind Switzerland and Finland in maximising the long-term potential of its labour force.

Of the 122 countries assessed, Japan was the only other Asian country to make it to the top 20 - in 15th place. The United States was one spot behind.

Not far below were Malaysia and South Korea, in 22nd and 23rd places respectively, while China - the top-ranking BRIC nation - came in at 43rd.

The WEF, a non-profit global organisation that aims to improve the state of the world, awarded Singapore high scores in three of the index's four criteria: the quality of the workforce and employment, education, and the working environment.

However, it fared less well in the last category: the physical and mental well-being of its workers.

This was mainly due to "the burden of disease in the country" - Singaporeans under the age of 60 suffer more deaths from non-communicable diseases than many other countries - which takes a toll on workers and businesses, the WEF said.

Workers here also reported high levels of stress, according to the index. As a result, Singapore ranked 13th in the "health and wellness" category.

In contrast, Singapore was awarded second place in the "workforce and employment" category.

It was recognised for its high labour force participation rate - the proportion of people able to be actively involved in the workforce - as well as the quality of skills and experience gained by its workers.

In particular, Singapore was seen as the second most successful country in the world at attracting talent, losing only to Switzerland.

The WEF also lauded Singapore's "exceptionally strong" quality of education and the "high level of tertiary education among the adult population", which landed the country third place in the education category.

Special mention was given to the quality of maths and science education here, which was deemed best in the world.

On top of that, Singapore scored well in terms of its infrastructure, legal framework and other elements that create a conducive environment for the development of a talented workforce. It came in fifth in this "enabling environment" category.

Most of the other countries that performed well in the Human Capital Index were from northern and western Europe, which accounted for eight of the top 10 spots, said the WEF. Singapore and Canada were the only exceptions.

"The key for the future of any country and any institution lies in the skills and talent of its people," said Mr Klaus Schwab, the WEF's founder and executive chairman.

"In the future, human capital will be the most important kind of capital. Investing in people is not just a nice to have; it is imperative for growth, prosperity and progress."

fiochan@sph.com.sg

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