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UK seventh best at attracting skilled migrants

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Switzerland was found to be the most successful at attracting skilled migrants, followed by Singapore

The UK ranks seventh in the world at attracting skilled migrants, according to research from Adecco Group, INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

The Global Talent Competitiveness Index, based on meta-analysis of existing research into 61 variables, found Switzerland to be the most successful at attracting skilled migrants, followed by Singapore, Luxembourg and the US. The top four remain unchanged from the 2014 ranking.

Denmark moved from eighth position in 2014 to fifth in 2015, followed by non-mover Sweden in sixth position. The UK retained the rank of seventh for a third consecutive year.

Despite good labour productivity, the Index suggests that a lack of people with vocational skills is holding Britain back. The UK also needs to pay attention to gender equality as it continues to lag behind in this area, ranking 56th for female graduates and 71st for the gender pay gap.

Paul Evans, the Shell chair of human resources and organisational development, Emeritus at INSEAD, and academic director and co-editor of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, said that the quality of management practices is increasingly important to retaining and attracting talent.

“While higher educational opportunities remain a key factor of talent attraction and retention, an increasingly important pull factor lies in the professionalism of companies and management practices, exemplified by the highly ranked Nordic countries that score particularly high on meritocracy, professional management and attention to employee development,” he said. “This is especially important for the millennial generation who will become the creative leaders of the future.”

Alex Fleming, managing director of Adecco Retail and Spring Personnel, and member of the board of directors for Adecco Group UK and Ireland, warned that the UK leaving the EU could damage its ranking. “With the referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union looming this report raises important considerations for policy makers and industry, particularly when it comes to labour mobility. ‘Brexit’ could hinder our ability to attract investment and top talent,” she said.

“The Index is clear: skilled foreign workers have helped to establish the UK as a world leader in research and entrepreneurship, yet at the same time the lack of people – both British and foreign nationals – with vocational training and skills is holding Britain back. Government and businesses urgently need to find a strategy to correct this skills imbalance. Any such strategy must be facts-based and not guided by emotions,” she added.