The alpine country once again tops the list of 63 competitive economies in the annual World Talent Ranking by the Institute for Management Development (IMD), which assesses the methods countries use to attract and retain talent.
Switzerland is followed by Denmark and Belgium in second and third, with 11 out of the top 15 being European countries.
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The 2017 ranking by the Lausanne-based IMD draws on extensive data and a survey of thousands of executives from 63 different economies to judge countries’ performance in three main categories: ‘investment and development’, relating to the nurturing of homegrown talent; ‘appeal’, meaning the ability of the country to tap into the overseas talent pool; and ‘readiness’, judging the availability of skills and competencies in the talent pool.
The three categories assess how countries perform in areas including education, apprenticeships, workplace training, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates.
European economies performed well in all three categories, with their outstanding education systems setting them apart from the rest, according to the IMD.
As well as topping the ranking overall, Switzerland led the pack in the ‘appeal’ and ‘readiness’ categories. Its performance in the former was largely due to the quality of life and salaries that Switzerland offers, allowing it to remain attractive to highly-skilled staff despite its high cost of living. The country’s high level of university education and management education contributed to its pole position in ‘readiness’.
The IMD also praised Switzerland’s apprenticeship schemes and health infrastructure, but pointed out that the public expenditure and quality of primary and secondary education was relatively low.
Austria and Finland both moved up one place on last year to complete the top five.
Other countries that performed well included Ireland, up three places to 14th, and The Netherlands, Germany and Singapore, all up two places on last year.
Sweden fell five spots to place ninth, the US dropped three to 16th and Australia also fell by three places to 19th. The UK dropped one spot to 21st.
The study chimes with another report earlier this year which also placed Switzerland top for attracting and developing talent.
The Global Talent Competitiveness Index by international graduate university Insead put Switzerland top of the country ranking and Zurich second behind only Copenhagen in a ranking of the best cities for attracting talent.