The International Institute for Management Development  (IMD) located in Switzerland recently released the “World Talent Ranking 2021”, showing that among the 64 countries and regions in the world, Hong Kong ranks 11th in terms of talent skills and competitiveness. The Special Administrative Region of China rose 3 places from last year in the same ranking and surpassed Singapore, which was 9th last year and 12th this year. Therefore, the ranking indicated that Hong Kong has become the most competitive region for talents in Asia.

Switzerland leads the top 10 economies in the ranking. Sweden is 2nd (up from 5th in 2020), Luxembourg 3rd (also 3rd in 2020), Norway 4th, and Denmark 5th. Switzerland has been ranked first in the World Talent Ranking for five years in a row. The fact that European countries take all of the top 10 places shows a pandemic-induced trend in which employees are more motivated in more competitive and stable economies and less so in uncompetitive ones. With a well-developed education system to train more talents as well as assured quality of life and higher salaries to help retain local talents, European developed economies are also attractive to overseas talents

The Institute for Management Development’s World Competitiveness Center takes a three-pronged approach in measuring talent in economies.

  • Investment & Development: Measures the resources earmarked to cultivate a homegrown workforce.
  • Appeal: Evaluates the extent to which an economy attracts foreign and retains local talent.
  • Readiness: Measures the quality of the skills and competencies that are available in a country’s talent pool.

In terms of “Investment & Development”, Hong Kong rose from 23rd last year to 14th this year. Among them, public education expenditure accounted for about 3.8% of the overall GDP, ranking 46th in the world. As for the factor of “Appeal”, Hong Kong’s ranking unfortunately dropped from 18th to 26th. Among them, the cost of living ranks 61st among the total 64 countries and regions in the world, reflecting the high cost of living and thus little attraction for overseas talents. In terms of “Readiness”, Hong Kong jumped from 2nd to the top of the list. Among them, financial skills and scientific research graduates are the world’s top talents, but only ranked 50th in the “workforce growth” project.

Compared with the top European countries, obviously there is room for Hong Kong to develop and improve its local environment for talent development and retention. The high cost of living is one of the major factors that lead to the difficulty for the city to attract foreign talents and retain local people. It is necessary for the Government to improve a sound talent attraction and retention mechanism, and provide helpful subsidies for foreign talents, including housing. In the meanwhile, the reform and upgrading of the education system will help develop local talents. How to teach students in accordance with their aptitude and to cultivate students’ sense of career planning from the early education stage is an indispensable step in order to achieve the sustainable development of talents.

People’s motivation for work during the pandemic has proven crucial for economic success, IMD’s World Talent Ranking 2021 finds. Workers today are increasingly motivated by high quality of life, flexible working, and opportunities to train on the job, whereas previously, remuneration was the driving force behind their desire to stick at their jobs.



劉紹蘭. (2021, December 10). 全球人才競爭力排名出爐!香港排名11 超越新加坡. 香港01. 全球人才競爭力排名出爐!香港排名11 超越新加坡 (

World Talent Competitiveness Rankings – IMD. (n.d.). IMD Business School.


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