Malaysia ranked 42nd in the global talent competitiveness index - MIDA | Malaysian Investment Development Authority
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Malaysia ranked 42nd in the global talent competitiveness index

Malaysia ranked 42nd in the global talent competitiveness index

08 Nov 2023

Malaysia ranks 42nd in the best performing upper-middle income group as a talent competitive country, just behind Brunei and China, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2023 released by INSEAD in collaboration with Descartes Institute for the Future and the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

The GTCI measures how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent. It provides resources for decision makers to understand the global talent competitiveness scene and develop strategies to boost their economies. The 10th edition of the report covers 134 countries around the world across all income groups.  

Malaysia managed to make it into the top quartile, ranked at 34th, for Global Knowledge Skills, which is boosted by its 27th position for the Talent Impact of its export driven economy.

The country also ranked eighth in Digital Skills, third in High Value Exports and ninth in brain retention.

This chart illustrates the strong positive correlation between quality of life in a country and its talent performance before and after Covid-19. The trend resumed in 2022 and can be expected to continue, and possibly accelerate, in the following years.

The country is ranked 38th in the pool of Vocational and Technical Skills and ranked the lowest under Attract, when it involved tolerance towards immigrants and gender equality, at the 71st spot. This, in turn, affected, Internal Openness, which placed Malaysia in the 98th place.

Meanwhile, Singapore was placed within the top three, as the second of world’s most talent competitive countries in the GTCI 2023. Switzerland took the first spot and the US was placed third.

European countries continued to dominate the Top 25, with 17 of them ranked in that category. Beyond Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Israel joined The top 25. UAE moved up from 25th to 22nd while Japan dropped out to be replaced by South Korea (24th).  

Some notable examples of the best improvers over the past decade were China, having moved from being a talent mover to a talent champion, and Indonesia which possessed great strengths in talent competitiveness.

Talent inequalities persist

However, the report found that the global landscape for talent competitiveness remains fraught with inequalities.

“In other words, poorer economies do not perform as well on the talent scene as richer economies.

“Despite the significant progress of the demographic powerhouses, India and China, up the talent ladder, and India’s successful efforts to close the gap between its economy and that of China, the wealth/talent correlation remains strong,” stated the report.

Moreover, the report noted that in most parts of the world, women are paid less than men at comparable levels of training and qualifications. They also have fewer career development opportunities and less access to higher levels of responsibility.

“In many emerging and poorer economies, the gender divide is stronger still, with girls having fewer opportunities to attend school, not to mention higher education.

“The rapid expansion of new working practices, such as online collaboration, alongside the accelerating adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in various industries will undoubtedly have an impact on some of the fundamental parameters of the jobs/skills equation. Unqualified or low-qualified labour will bear much of the additional pressure, while new categories of workers, some with higher skills, will suffer from stronger competition from algorithms and specialised equipment,” it stated.

Talent ‘less’ attached to physical location

The report also found that talent is less tightly attached to a particular physical location post-Covid-19 and this is especially true for high-skilled workers.

“In such a renewed landscape, an increasing number of talents can make choices about where they want to live and where and how they wish to work. One of the resulting trends that GTCI identified is the growing value of quality of life in decisions made both by individuals and by recruiting organisations when considering physical location,” it stated.

Cities and regions too play increasingly important roles in talent initiatives. One of the findings of GCTCI was that second-tier cities increasingly became the places where the most successful talent policies were deployed.

“Such cities, often medium or modest sized, frequently demonstrated an ability to be more dynamic and more attractive than larger metropolises. Such a trend is only one facet of the complex set of phenomena by which cities have become prominent players on the global talent scene, and may be a harbinger of other possible changes.

“Cities could play a growing role by taking on some of the responsibilities that national governments have abandoned, or are unable to fulfil. This could occur in fields like international trade or investment, for example, through the adoption of exceptional fiscal or incentive regimes at the local level,” it added.

The GTC Index also noted that talent competitiveness has become a key vector of geopolitics. “Just as international tensions and rivalries have contributed to a decrease in multilateral cooperation and disciplines, the ability of enterprises and organisations, such as universities, to cooperate across national borders has been significantly reduced.”

The effects of limiting international travel, as initially required by pandemic concerns, have been partially offset by the rapid adoption of online collaboration tools and new work habits. “Yet, as the GTCI time series suggests, neither the recent period nor the one to come have created fertile ground for one of the most positive trends identified before Covid: that of ‘brain circulation’,” said the report.

“A proven ability to operate in different geographical and cultural contexts has become a major plus for large segments of the global workforce. By putting a sudden stop to international travel, Covid created a radically different environment for global brain circulation. To a large extent, this negative trend was offset by the growing tendency among organisations of all sizes to rely on a more systemic use of online collaboration tools.

“Although international travel resumed swiftly once health-related limitations were relaxed, persistent levels of geopolitical uncertainty, renewed nationalistic and protectionist tendencies, and the resulting decrease in international cooperation continue to hamper direct, face-to-face cooperation and, hence, the cross-fertilisation of talent,” it found.

The report added that the new generations are reshaping the world of work. “An increasing proportion of younger generations, especially among those with a higher level of education, were considering other priorities. This might include having a meaningful job by contributing positively to society or the environment, or enjoying a healthier work-life balance.

“As mentioned above, when considering the role of cities as talent hubs, quality of life has become a key factor in the choices made by younger cohorts about their working and living environment.

“The same phenomena have also led to the emergence of a new generation of workers for whom the traditional value of loyalty to their employer has quickly eroded. Gig-working and short-term contracts, often combined into parallel lines of work, have become the norm for a growing number of free agents on the global talent scene,” it added.

INSEAD’s 10th year edition of the report highlights outlooks for talent competitiveness in the next decade, which mentioned that quality of life and sustainability, along with new talent strategies and innovation will be critical assets for cities and regions aiming to become talent hubs.

As talent competitiveness grows fiercer and gains more importance, global talent-focused policies remain crucial in harnessing human and technological power. Moreover, education and skills will be vital tools in making meaningful contributions to the economy.

Challenging roads are ahead with talent inequalities remaining high amongst countries especially with the global talent landscape being significantly altered by Covid. Aside from gender gaps in equal pay and career growth, uncertainties and geopolitical tensions continue to hinder collaboration and talent cross-fertilisation.

Furthermore, new generations are prioritising meaningful jobs with work-life balance instead of high-demand skills. AI and new work practices have also disrupted the job landscape, affecting unskilled and highly-skilled workers.

The GTC Index has repeatedly emphasised how cities had been able to deploy original and effective talent strategies, and how “second-tier” cities were increasingly successful at deploying talent policies.

“It is now time to look at the future. Talent competition will be one of the pillars of the next age of globalisation. Our collective ability to make the world less unequal, and the planet more sustainable will depend heavily on our capacity to grow, attract and nurture the right talents,” said Bruno Lanvin, co-author of the report, distinguished fellow at INSEAD and founder and president of Descartes Institute for the Future.

While milestones should be celebrated, it is also important to make improvements in embracing new technologies and adapt to the changing talent landscape with the new generation coming into the workforce.

Source: The Edge Malaysia