The strength of a nation is measured by many criteria. And there is one that we do not pay enough attention to even though it is essential: the ability to retain and attract talent.

The ranking provided since 2013 by INSEAD (associated with a Swiss foundation and another Singaporean) gives a very interesting idea of these issues, even if its definition of «talents» is to my taste much too restrictive (essentially reduced to employability, qualifications and the ability to innovate technologically).

According to this ranking, Switzerland, Singapore and Denmark are the most attractive countries. The United States ranks 4th, followed by several northern European countries such as Sweden (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Norway (7th) and Finland (8th). Next are Australia (9th), Canada (15th) and New Zealand (18th). France is only 19th. Other top 25 countries include the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Israel. Behind them, a few countries are starting to show up very convincingly: China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

This ranking is very revealing: it reminds in particular to all the sad minds who have forgotten it, that Europe is globally, with the United States, the best place in the world to live, create, work; a continent blessed by the Gods and envied by all those who do not live there.

France, which lags around the 20th rank since the beginning of this ranking, does not, despite all the speeches, much to attract talents, of any kind: an indiscriminate and absurd visa policy, a much less attractive tax system than that of many of our neighbours, a greater difficulty than elsewhere in succeeding when we do not have the codes and networks, xenophobia that is too present… All of this does not encourage future talent, and a young francophone who is increasingly thinking about leaving France to go to Canada, Australia, the United States or one of the countries of Northern Europe. More generally, and contrary to what is said here and there, France attracts neither foreign investment (half less than Germany), nor artists, nor researchers, nor any of those who can move a country.

We could enrich this index and this ranking by integrating less quantitative elements, such as the place given to the non graduates wishing to create their business or develop an idea, tolerance towards different thoughts, the acceptance of minorities and even more by considering that the main talent is motivation; something that cannot be learned at university.

It is through these talents, drivers of change, that the future of a development model will be decided, political institutions will be organized and economic growth will evolve, the mechanisms for renewing elites and the ability to include as many as possible. The future will depend on them. 

In a world where, by nature, talents are increasingly nomadic, this ranking will soon evolve much faster. And countries that are now very welcoming could stop being so. For example, if the suicidal policies of the current Israeli government continue, some of that country’s elite could go and live and work elsewhere. Similarly, while anti-Semitism in Britain has a lasting impact, much of the English Jewish community, particularly its scholars, teachers and artists, could soon wonder if it still has its place in what was the oldest democracy in the world, largely demonetized by Brexit.

Similarly, the United States could one day cease to be attractive if the intolerance that settles there in some universities triumphs permanently and spreads throughout society or if a totalitarian political power took power. All these hypotheses are not to be excluded. Talents would find other places of refuge, as they did in the darkest decades of past centuries. For the greater benefit of those who will attract them…

Image: Pexels.