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In Europe, there are eight of the highest 10 nations for gifted staff

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Switzerland was named the best place in the world for recruiting and promoting skilled workers, even if the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the ability of many countries to attract top talent.

The Central European nation maintained pole position for the fourth year in a row, beating other continental neighbors such as Denmark, Luxembourg, Iceland and Sweden to secure the top spot in the 2020 IMD World Talent Ranking, released on Thursday.

Switzerland has been praised for its high quality education system and focus on apprenticeships, as well as its ability to attract foreign professionals with high living standards and high salary packages. Denmark, meanwhile, did well for an emphasis on equal opportunities in society and Luxembourg has seen an increase in recent years after sustained investment in its workforce.

Here are the top 10 countries on the list of 63 markets, heavily led by Western Europe.

1. Switzerland
2. Denmark
3. Luxembourg
4. Iceland
5. Sweden
6. Austria
7. Norway
8. Canada
9. Singapore
10. the Netherlands

The USA took 15th place, behind Germany (11th), Australia (13th) and Hong Kong (14th). It was just ahead of Ireland (18th), Taiwan (20th) and Great Britain (23rd).

Among the bottom 10 countries were: Russia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Romania, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Slovak Republic, with India and Mongolia taking the last place in the ranking.

The IMD annual ranking, which is already in its seventh year, is intended to convey a picture of the talent pools of leading economies and thus their global competitiveness. It does this by using a mix of hard data and surveys to measure the markets.

Economies are assessed using three main criteria: “Investment and Development” examines how a country fosters native talent; "Appointment" is used to assess the extent to which an economy retains local talent and attracts international talent. and "readiness" measures the quality of the skills and competences available.

As in previous years, the most recent study was conducted between January and April and therefore does not fully take into account the effects of the pandemic. Jose Caballeros, chief economist at the IMD World Competitiveness Center, told CNBC Make It the results provide some clues as to which labor markets could have the greatest social and economic impact.

"The performance of the countries with the highest talent competition remains relatively strong," said Caballeros. "We see more fluctuations among the other economies."

Indonesia, which landed at number 45, and Malaysia, which was at number 23 on the list, both fell into the rankings this year. This was due to "brain drain" – the emigration of educated workers from their home country – and the limited ability to attract foreign highly skilled workers and international managers, Caballeros said. He added that the pandemic is likely to make this problem worse.

In other countries that rely largely on overseas talent, like Singapore, Australia, the US and the UK, recent border restrictions could also have a negative impact, the report said.

However, Caballeros said the pandemic also provides an opportunity for economies to invest in their populations and adapt to new ways of working.

"The ability for employees to acquire new skills or reuse existing ones – such as transitioning to remote working – will also be critical to maintaining the effectiveness of the talent pool in the near future," he said.

"This effectiveness will be necessary to deal with the new challenges that may arise after the current crisis. Facilitating the introduction of flexible new technologies will also be helpful for such economies, as they can be re-used to meet the demands of one themselves to cope with ever-changing context, "added Caballeros.

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Steven Gregory