Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
World Talent Ranking 2023: Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan make the top 20

World Talent Ranking 2023: Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan make the top 20


The three economies ranked eighth, 16th, and 20th respectively in terms of their worldwide talent competitiveness.

Despite the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic playing a determining role in the talent competitiveness landscape, Switzerland has maintained its top spot in the 2023 IMD World Talent Ranking (WTR).

The 2023 edition studied 64 economies – including Kuwait for the first time – by quantifying 31 criteria that involve both hard data and survey responses from executives, reflecting the global talent competitiveness of each economy.

Each criterion was then organised into three factors:

  • Investment and development, which considers the domestic resources committed to cultivating homegrown talent;
  • Appeal, which evaluates the ability to attract and retain talent from both international and domestic markets; and
  • Readiness, which quantifies the quality of the available skills and competencies in the talent pool.

Switzerland has continued its worldwide talent competitiveness dominance, remaining in the top position of the WTR since its inception in 2014. Luxembourg moved up to second place, while Iceland retained the third spot. Sweden experienced a considerable downfall – from second to 10th position – while Belgium (fourth) and Singapore (eighth) have both moved back into the top 10.

Global top 10:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Luxembourg
  3. Iceland
  4. Belgium
  5. Netherlands
  6. Finland
  7. Denmark
  8. Singapore
  9. Austria
  10. Sweden

In APAC, Singapore was ranked first, followed by Hong Kong and Australia.

Among the Asian economies considered, only Singapore, South Korea, and Indonesia saw an improvement in their rankings, with all three moving up four places this year.

Asia talent ranking:

  • Singapore (ranked eighth globally, +4 places)
  • Hong Kong SAR (16th globally, -2)
  • Taiwan, China (20th globally, -1)
  • Malaysia (33rd globally, ±0)
  • South Korea (34th globally, +4)
  • China (41st globally, -1)
  • Japan (43rd globally, -2)
  • Thailand (45th globally, ±0)
  • Indonesia (47th globally, +4)
  • India (56th globally, -4)
  • Philippines (60th globally, -6)

The study shows that most regions have not been able to return to pre-pandemic levels of talent competitiveness – a situation that has led to greater talent competitiveness parity between certain regions (e.g., the average talent ranking of countries in Southern Asia and Eastern Europe got closer between 2019 and 2023) while increasing the disparities experienced by other regions (e.g., South America, which had already been lagging in comparison to other regions and has seen that gap increase).

Professor Arturo Bris, Director of IMD’s World Competitiveness Center (WCC), noted that adapting education systems to the needs of economic systems remains one of the big challenges of talent competitiveness. And the top performers in the ranking are those that emphasise professional training and apprenticeships over general academic subjects.

Another major finding in the ranking was that remote and hybrid work is affecting career progression in the eyes of many: 27% of the more than 4,000 executives surveyed said they felt that remote work, whether full-time or part-time, was detrimental to career development in their company.

However, those economies in which remote work is considered less harmful for career development are, on average, also those that excel in the attraction and retention of highly skilled professionals as well as in the levels of female participation in the job market, which are the two important components of talent competitiveness.

“This year’s rankings also show that as economies become more service-oriented – a transformation process that has also reached China (41st) and India (56th) – the physical presence of employees in the country of their employers is no longer needed. All in all, we observe the emergence of a new type of employee that has been educated in one country, lives in another, and works for a company located in a third country,” explained Professor Bris.

Lead image / Shutterstock

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window