Switzerland and Australia top first OECD talent indicators

The prosperity of nations is increasingly dependent on their ability to attract talented and skilled individuals from abroad. Countries compete for this pool by implementing benign migration policies, which for the first time the OECD has ranked in an index. 

Switzerland and Australia lead in attractiveness, appearing in the top six in three talent categories of migrants featured in the OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness or ITA – highly skilled workers at masters-PhD level; international students in tertiary education; and foreign entrepreneurs.

Since not all dimensions are of the same importance to every individual, the ITA allows the user to weight the relative importance of each dimension and produce an individually customised ranking showing which destination best corresponds to their own priorities.

The report, “How do OECD countries compare in their attractiveness for talented migrants”, was published on 29 May 2019 along with the interactive talent index.

Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland are ranked as the most attractive OECD countries for workers with postgraduate degrees. They have the edge in offering favourable labour market conditions and an excellent environment for highly skilled workers in general.

The attractiveness of several countries – including Israel, Japan and Turkey – was negatively affected by restrictive admission conditions.

For international university students, the top five countries are Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Finland, the United States and Australia. Some countries that have many international students – including Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – fall in the ranking due to relatively high tuition fees.

For entrepreneurs, the most attractive countries are Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway. This is a function also of relatively low minimum capital investments and job creation requirements in these countries. Greece, Mexico and Turkey lag on this indicator. 

The United States would rank among the top countries for highly qualified workers and entrepreneurs but is penalised by the fact that relatively few are able to obtain a visa, and the conditions for their family members are comparatively restrictive.