“The success of a business depends on the interaction of three factors”, said Professor Bris; “governance, talent and innovation.”

Talent management should play a vital role in any business strategy since it determines one of the most important assets of the company - its people.

Often, talent boils down to having quality education systems - meaning, when it comes to investing in attracting and retaining talent, companies cannot do it isolation, he added.

Instead, they need the help of policymakers who to produce policies to that will create competitive advantages.

This will entail three main strategies, said Professor Bris. Firstly, invest in education policies that will help to create homegrown talent. Secondly, countries need to consider ways in which to both attract and retain talent. Lastly, nations need to implement continuous learning opportunities to encourage talent to prosper and grow.

In this way, IMD’s World Talent Ranking 2019 can provide a snapshot of the importance of talent.

Nurturing talent

Switzerland leads this year’s ranking, with Denmark in second place and Singapore the only non-European country to feature in the top 10 this year. The IMD World Talent Ranking is based on countries' performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.

The three categories assess how countries perform in a wide range of areas. These include education, apprenticeships, workplace training, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates.

The ranking is proof that talent and performance are intrinsically linked. 

Switzerland - which has one of the best education systems in the world - invest heavily to develop a pool of homegrown talent from an early age. The country comes out top in a number of measures in IMD’s World Competitiveness Report, including quality of life and salaries. 

Meanwhile, the United States - which can attract talent due to offering an attractive quality of life - is number one for talent attraction. "When it comes to appeal, the US is sucking talent from the rest of the world by providing an attractive lifestyle,” said Bris.

And Singapore - which invests in continuous learning - is number one for retention of talent.

This reaches beyond purely academic aspects to encompass the effective implementation of apprenticeships and employee training, added Bris.

Lifelong learning

Continuous learning is critical, said Bris. Countries, therefore, need to develop an education system that looks beyond school, colleges and universities, to lifelong learning and innovation centres that enable talent to feel inspired and motivated.

"Companies alone cannot do it by themselves. Unfortunately, countries focus on other priorities, they get distracted,” said Bris.

“Countries should focus on talent, training, attraction and retention. Focus on talent as the pillar of your strategy, not just national priority. And think of ways to attract back that talent you have lost.

"Very often when we look at innovation we tend to look at individual skills, we don't look at the context. 

Countries cannot shape the talent, but they can shape the growth and development of talent."

Watch the full keynote speech here.

Arturo Bris is Professor of Finance at IMD and the director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center.