The UK drops three places to 12th spot in global talent ranking

LONDON – 11.30am, 22 January 2020 – The Adecco Group today launched the 7th edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), together with INSEAD and Google. The global report measures the ability of countries to attract, retain and grow talent.

  • The United Kingdom (UK) has fallen from 9th to 12th best country in the world for the ability to attract, retain, train and educate skilled workers
  • The index data reveals that the UK’s ability to attract and retain talent is affected by the lack of political stability and poor tolerance of minorities
  • London has rapidly risen from 14th to 2nd most talent competitive city, with Edinburgh, Birmingham and Cardiff coming in at 45th, 76th and 77th respectively

The 2020 GTCI report reveals the UK has fallen three places to 12th best country in the world for the ability to attract, retain, train and educate skilled workers. This ranking is mainly due to lacklustre performances in its ability to attract and retain talent. Within these categories, the UK’s weakest area is its relatively low degree of Internal Openness (31st). This would primarily improve through greater tolerance of minorities, a category for which the UK fell from 54th rank last year to 78th this year. The report findings also suggest that attention should be paid to Vocational and Technical Skills (24th), as more could be done to improve secondary education by making it more relevant for the labour market.

On a more positive note, this year’s report puts the UK among the top countries in growing talent (5th), and in having a strong pool of Global Knowledge Skills (3rd).

GTCI 2020: TOP 20 COUNTRIES (2019 ranking in brackets)

1. Switzerland (1) 11. Germany (14)
2. United States (3) 12. United Kingdom (9)
3. Singapore (2) 13. Canada (15)
4. Sweden (7) 14. Iceland (13)
5. Denmark (5) 15. Ireland (16)
6. Netherlands (8) 16. New Zealand (11)
7. Finland (6) 17. Austria (18)
8. Luxembourg (10) 18. Belgium (17)
9. Norway (4) 19. Japan (22)
10. Australia (12) 20. Israel (20)

The report also reveals that some cities rather than countries are strengthening their role as talent hubs, with London’s efforts to attract and retain top talent paying off. The capital jumped into the 2nd spot from 14th the prior year. This demonstrates its ability to be flexible to new trends and patterns, and provide capacity for future readiness in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) or advanced technologies, including fintech and medtech.

London also received a strong performance in the Attract and Global Knowledge Skills pillars. These assess the degree of internationalisation of cities (infrastructure and connectivity, population with tertiary education and number of patent applications) – all of which contribute to making the capital such a hub for talent. Three other British cities also feature in the ranking – Edinburgh (45th), Birmingham (76th) and Cardiff (77th).

GTCI 2020: TOP 10 CITIES (2019 rankings in brackets)

1. New York (8) 6. Hong Kong (27)
2. London (14) 7. Paris (9)
3. Singapore (17) 8. Tokyo (19)
4. San Francisco (12) 9. Los Angeles (22)
5. Boston (6) 10. Munich (20)

Commenting on the UK’s ranking, Alex Fleming, President and Country Head, the Adecco Group UK&I, said:

“These research findings reveal the scale of the talent challenge facing organisations in the UK. Despite London’s enduring appeal and success in acting as a test bed for new AI based tools such as facial recognition, tele surveillance and autonomous vehicles, the UK as a whole has become less attractive to workers. This fall in performance is no doubt partly due to the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

To retain its competitive edge as Brexit looms, Britain needs to focus on talent attraction and retention and work towards improving its tolerance of minorities. This can be done by encouraging entrepreneurship, as well as breaking down stereotypes and encouraging a more diverse selection of candidates to apply for the jobs on offer.”

Commenting on London’s ranking, Alex Fleming, President and Country Head, the Adecco Group UK&I, said:

“While the UK as a whole has lost some of its talent competitiveness due to Brexit uncertainty, London has rapidly risen from 14th to second best destination for talent worldwide. This success is thanks to our welcoming corporate environment, talented workforce and strong reputation for creativity and innovation.

To safeguard this position, London needs to counter speculation that there will be a mass exodus of companies moving abroad once the UK leaves the EU. Right now, businesses need to focus on upskilling or cross-skilling existing staff, and hiring from unconventional talent pools. Steps like these will help London keep up with this momentum.”

With a special focus on the theme of global talent in the age of AI, the report found the UK is leading the way in this space. It is promoting a diverse AI workforce and investing about £406 million in skills focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and in computer science teachers. The UK’s AI strategy, which emphasises the need for early adoption of the rules and principles that should guide AI research, development and deployment, was also found to be exemplary.

About the report

Produced by one of the world’s leading HR solutions partners, the Adecco Group, together with international business school INSEAD and Google, the GTCI looks at 70 discrete variables. Ranging from organisational collaboration and foreign direct investment to innovation output and labour productivity, these variables help determine a country’s ‘talent competitiveness’ – the ability to attract, develop and retain skilled workers, thereby supporting productivity and prosperity.

The GTCI covers 132 countries and 155 cities, across all groups of income and levels of development. The report provides a tool for governments, cities, businesses and not-for-profit organisations to help design their talent strategies overcome talent mismatches and be competitive in the global marketplace.



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About the Adecco Group UK and Ireland

The Adecco Group UK&I and its brands are part of the Adecco Group, the world’s leading HR solutions partner. As a Group, we provide more than 700,000 people with permanent and flexible employment every day. With more than 34,000 employees in 60 countries – 3,100 in the UK&I – we transform the world of work one job at a time. Our colleagues serve more than 100,000 organisations with the talent, HR services and cutting-edge technology they need to succeed in an ever-changing global economy. As a Fortune Global 500 company, we lead by example, creating shared value that meets social needs while driving business innovation. Our culture of inclusivity, fairness and teamwork empowers individuals and organisations, fuels economies, and builds better societies. We make the future work for everyone.

The Adecco Group is based in Zurich, Switzerland. Adecco Group AG is registered in Switzerland (ISIN: CH0012138605) and listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ADEN). The Group is powered by eight lead brands: Adecco, Modis, Badenoch + Clark, Spring Professional, Lee Hecht Harrison, Pontoon, General Assembly and YOSS.

The Adecco Group UK&I’s head office is located in London, UK. We have 10 brands, including the Adecco Group UK&I, Adecco, Ajilon, Badenoch + Clark, Modis, Office Angels, Penna, Pontoon, Roevin and Spring Technology.