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Canada Ranks 13th in the 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index

gtci-2017-full-reportThe Adecco Group has once again partnered with INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute to produce the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) — an annual benchmarking report that ranks 118 countries according to their ability to grow, attract and retain talent.

Launched for the first time in 2013, The GTCI provides a tool-kit for governments, businesses, organizations and personnel throughout the world to prepare them for the future of work. Its wealth of data and analysis is intended to help countries overcome talent mismatches and be competitive in the global marketplace.

Why is talent so important?

Talent has become the ‘currency’ of the global labour market and therefore something that decision makers in business, policy and academia need to understand in depth.

Talent is increasingly becoming the subject of intense debate, and these arguments are not simply about skills shortages. Talent competitiveness lies at the heart of important societal issues, such as unemployment, immigration, education and economic growth — whether in the context of restoring post-crisis prosperity, creating jobs for the young, maintaining momentum in high-growth economies or lifting entire nations out of poverty.

The global workforce must recognize the skills they will need for the future, governments must understand how they can secure the right to work for their citizen and countries need to ensure they remain competitive in the global economy.

What global talent trends have emerged?

The 2017 study focuses on how technology is affecting talent competitiveness and the nature of work, exploring both significant challenges and opportunities, and important shifts away from traditional working approaches.



The following findings and trends have emerged:

Technology is changing the nature of work. We are shifting away from work based on traditional employment (i.e. salaries) to 30% of US and European working population being free agents (independent contractors). Influenced by economic, technological and sociological factors, the new generation favours a multi-career approach over a job for life and appreciates flexibility and autonomy. Organizations in the new economy need to manage talent differently and facilitate individuals to help themselves.

We need to think beyond automation. Technology and hyper-connectivity are changing the nature of work. Many jobs — both skilled and unskilled — will be replaced by robots and algorithms powered by big data. In fact, various studies have placed Canada among the vanguards of using robotics across industries. However, we must think beyond automation: it is not simply about technology. We are witnessing a profound transformation of society, including across organizations (connectivity, less reliance on authority, a management focus on what people deliver rather than where they do it), in careers (multiple careers during a person’s life), and across educational and employment systems.

“The good news is that technology might be killing jobs, but not work, thanks to sector shift … While the entire developed world has shifted from agriculture to manufacturing and, more and more, to services, the number of jobs has always climbed.”

Alain Dehaze — CEO, The Adecco Group

Technical skills combined with social/project competence is the new talent profile. Technical and digital skills are not enough. They must be complemented with social and project competencies because, in the new economy, innovation comes from collaboration and co-creation.

“Even a cutting-edge technology group such as Google argues that, of the five attributes required by all employees, expertise comes last … More important are learning ability, emergent leadership, humility, and ownership.”

Alain Dehaze — CEO, The Adecco Group

Educational and employment policies must adapt to “the fourth industrial revolution.”Machines are taking over the routine and professional jobs that traditional education models train us for. Educational systems need to start fostering a sense of personal vocation, along with flexibility and learning agility. Moreover, employment policies must facilitate mobility, retraining, entrepreneurship and adjustment to market needs (since they will continually change in the future).

National strategies are reflecting the changes too slowly. Some countries are exposing their populations to risk by looking backwards rather than forwards when it comes to their readiness for the inevitable talent overhaul induced by technology.

Successful transformational change is most likely to occur where there are strong ecosystems. Addressing the societal impact of digitalization and automation requires close connectedness between government, business and educational institutions. Such collaborative ecosystems are more likely to be found in cities, regions or smaller countries that display a cohesive heritage than in large countries.

Cities and regions are showing the way. Cities and regions that combine a high quality of living with good career prospects are becoming increasingly active in developing their own strategies to attract, grow and retain talent. In the future, the best and most innovative talent competitiveness practices will likely come from cities. The expansion of global information networks is allowing talent to transport themselves to attractive cities.

What were the 2017 rankings?

The top spots for 2017 go to Switzerland, Singapore and the UK, with 4 Nordic countries in the top 10.


These countries are particularly successful because of their:

  • National education systems that equip students with technical skills, teach them to “learn how to learn” and build collaboration skills;
  • Employment policies that combine flexibility with social protection;
  • Business, education and government sectors that are connected and collaborative; and
  • High level of technological competence.


Among the top GTCI countries, nine are particularly well positioned in ‘talent readiness’ for technology: Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and Canada (more on Canada below).

In addition, the 2017 report features the first index focused on cities: the Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI). This first edition features 45 cities and explores the factors that contribute to turning cities into talent magnets. Their high level of connectedness — as well as their quality of life and international career opportunities — mean cities often outperform countries in their ability to attract and retain talent.

The top ranking cities include Copenhagen, Zurich, Helsinki, San Francisco and Gothenburg.

These successful cities have been successful at:

  • Combining strong infrastructure and information connectivity;
  • Investing in knowledge hubs; and
  • Attracting international companies.


How were these countries and cities evaluated?

There are six pillars contributing to the rankings of the GTCI, with a focus on how countries and cities produce and acquire talent, and the quality and type of skills that are available for their labour markets as a result. These include:

  • Vocational and Technical Skills: Skills that have a technical or professional basis and enhance the employability and labour productivity of those employed. Employability is measured by the adequacy of educational systems, skills gaps and labour market mismatches.
  • Global Knowledge Skills: The knowledge of workers in professional, managerial, or leadership roles that require creativity and problem-solving. These are evaluated by indicators of innovation, entrepreneurship and the development of high-value industries.
  • Attracting Talent: The ability to lure valuable resources — both people and businesses — from abroad. This pillar also includes internal attraction: the removal of barriers to entering the talent pool for groups such as those from underprivileged backgrounds, women and mature workers.
  • Growing talent: Access to and value of education, apprenticeships, training and continuous education, as well as experience.
  • Retaining talent: Measured through the quality of life offered.
  • Enabling talent: Regulatory, market and business landscapes that facilitate or impede talent attraction and growth.

The above pillars are averaged to determine a country’s overall ability to develop, attract and optimize the human capital that contributes to productivity and prosperity.

Where does Canada stand?

In 2017, Canada ranked 13th in the sample of 118 countries — one spot higher than last year’s report.

Canada scores relatively well in attracting and enabling talent, while talent retention and the vocational and technical skills of its workforce represent some of its greatest challenges.

It performs consistently well across its regulatory, market, and business and labour landscapes. In terms of attracting businesses and people, Canada shows a good balance between External Openness (immigration, international students and brain gain) and Internal Openness (tolerance, social mobility, opportunities for women and the gender earnings gap). Canada also shows solid lifelong learning and access to growth opportunities, but it can still upgrade its formal education system.


  • Total Population: 36 Million
  • GDP: US$1,551 Billion
  • GDP Per Capita: US$44,310.12 (19 out of 118 Countries)
  • Country Income Level: High Income
  • GTCI 2017 Ranking: 13 (Out Of 118)

Comparison to other countries

Canada is classified as a high-income country and performs favourably against most regions and ranks above 74 percent of countries from high-income groups.

Its group of competitors are the other countries that are members of the G7 (Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States), in addition to two other main countries belonging to the Commonwealth (Australia and New Zealand).

Based on the size of their population and the level of their GDP per capita, Canada’s closest competitors are perhaps Australia and Germany. Canada ranks below Australia but above Germany. It is, however, outperformed by the United Kingdom, despite a much lower GDP per capita.

Notably, Canada also ranks below the United States — the only other country in its regional group. Although Canada is slightly better at attracting talent — particularly given its high tolerance of immigrants and minorities — the US ranks higher in retaining talent. The US has also been able to create a stronger pool of Global Knowledge Skills compared with Canada.

Performance across pillars

Canada performs very close to the average score of its regional group (Northern America) and above the average score of high-income countries.

When compared to other high-income countries, Canada scores above average in every pillar except “Retaining Talent” and “Vocational and Technical Skills.” The experiences of Germany and smaller European countries such as Switzerland or Finland can offer valuable lessons and best practices in this domain.

Technology readiness and talent

The ‘talent readiness’ of countries (their preparedness to respond to and benefit from technology) largely depends on how well societies and their institutions (including educational and employment policies) are adapting to emerging needs and realities of the 21st century. These include:

  • The use of virtual work (e.g. remote working, telecommuting)
  • The use of online social networks
  • Personal in­novativeness (or idea generation by people)
  • The extent of with­in-firm collaboration
  • The extent of across-firm collaboration
  • En­trepreneurial spirit
  • Delegation of authority

Overall, Canada is well positioned in all aspects of talent readiness for technology. However, it could improve its technology competencies further by encouraging collaboration between firms.

A look to the future

The GTCI recommends the following directives — not just for Canada — but for all countries, cities, companies and employees who would like to prepare for the future of work.


  • Incorporate more project-based and experiential learning into national education systems
  • Foster greater apprenticeships and internships
  • Increase labour market flexibility, sustainable solutions and reasonable measures of social protection through public-private alliances.


  • Offer work-based training opportunities for young workers to develop their employability and gain the required skills
  • Upskill existing workforces – of both younger and mature workers
  • Promote collaboration over hierarchy and authority
  • Maximize organizational flexibility and mobility.


  • Plan for continuous upskilling and learning — particularly of digital skills — to stay employable in the labour market
  • Expect to have multiple jobs during your working lives
  • Build soft skills of collaboration and networking.


As the report notes: Employers, regulators and all of us, really, need to make sure we can meet the challenge together.

Further Reading

As in years past, the 2017 GTCI was in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.

This release also features The Adecco Group’s Global CEO Alain Dehaze discussing “The Skills Imperative: Shaping the Future of Work through Talent and Technology.

To learn more or download the complete report, visit:

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