World-talent ranking

Published Date: 09 January 2017 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Tin Pei Ling, Anggota Parlimen


To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) (a) what are the reasons for Singapore's drop in ranking in the latest world-talent ranking in IMD's World Talent Report 2016; (b) whether spending on home-grown talents has declined and whether this has adversely impacted the quality and size our talent pool; and (c) what is being done to further groom and boost the local talent pool.


1. The IMD World Talent Report rankings take into account three factors. First, ‘Readiness’ – the availability of skills and competencies in the labour force to maintain the competitiveness of the economy. Second, ‘Appeal’ – the economy’s ability to attract top global talent. Third, ‘Investment and Development’ – the level of investment in and development of its local labour force, measured in terms of percentage of GDP spent on education and training.

2. The most important of the three factors to us will be ‘Readiness’’ because it directly affects employability and employment of our workforce. Our ranking on ‘Readiness’ rose from 6th in 2014 to 2nd in 2015 to 1st in 2016, amongst 61 economies listed in the same report.

3. On ‘Appeal’, we maintained our ranking, from 19th in 2014 to 18th in 2015 and back to 19th in 2016.

4. However, on ‘Investment and Development’, our ranking dropped from 31st in 2014 to 38th in 2016 (we were ranked 29th in 2015). This is the main reason why Singapore’s overall ranking went down from 10th last year to 15th this year.

5. If you examine the reasons behind the fall in ranking of this category, a key reason is because percentage GDP spent on education dropped from 3.08% in 2013 to 2.99% in 2014. Notwithstanding this, I want to assure the member that there is much more behind that broad percentage of GDP figure. Over the last decade, government overall expenditure on education has increased by around 75%, expenditure per student has more than doubled, and the pupil-teacher ratio for both primary and secondary education has improved.

6. But as a percentage of GDP education expenditure has fallen, because while the denominator – GDP and working population – is still growing, the numerator – cohort sizes and student population – are falling.

We pay attention to such rankings as they are credible, robust and helpful in giving a sense in how Singapore is performing vis-à-vis other economies. But at the same time we need to understand our unique conditions and that these are just good references. We will continue to improve our education system, uncover passions and interests, and promote lifelong learning through the SkillsFuture programme.

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