Singapore top in Asia-Pacific for fifth year in drawing talent

Skyscrapers in Singapore's central business district seen from the Marina Bay Sands promenade.
Skyscrapers in Singapore's central business district seen from the Marina Bay Sands promenade.ST PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore was tops in attracting and developing talent in the Asia-Pacific region for the fifth straight year and No. 2 globally, according to a new report.

It measured the ability of 119 countries to lure, develop and retain talented people.

Western countries continued to dominate the annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index, with Switzerland at the top spot and the United States at No. 3. Second-placed Singapore was the only Asia-Pacific country in the top 10.

Five other Asia-Pacific countries ranked in the top 30 - Australia at 11, New Zealand (12), Japan (20), Malaysia (27) and South Korea (30).

The 2018 index compiled by French business school Insead had the theme of diversity and looked at it from the cognitive (differences in knowledge, experience and perspectives) and identity (gender, race, age and so on) angles.

The report underscored the importance of diversity for building innovative teams and equipping organisations with the ability to address the needs of markets and operations in multicultural environments.

Mr Paul Evans, the index's academic director and co-editor, said Singapore demonstrated consistently strong performance linked to its deep political commitment to diversity.

"Efforts to stimulate and support diversity are best seen in societies that were multicultural (and often multi-ethnic) from the start, as was the case for Singapore," he noted.

"The nation's strong stance on its diversity policy was at the core of its independence - testifying to the need for vision, determination and dedication on the part of the country's political leaders."

But the study did find Singapore has room for improvement when it comes to access to growth opportunities, innovation output and more social protection for labour.

Zurich led the city rankings, followed by Stockholm and Oslo as Europe again came up trumps, providing eight of the top 10.

Washington and San Francisco from the United States were the only cities from outside the continent.

The top five cities in the Asia-Pacific were Tokyo (12th globally), Seoul (18), Sydney (20), Singapore (33) and Auckland (46).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore top in Asia-Pacific for fifth year in drawing talent'. Subscribe