Global review: a look at the WEF’s Human Capital Report 2015

Higher-ranked countries better develop and deploy their human capital in terms of skill, education and employment, across all age groups


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Finland (Rank 1)
According to the WEF’s Human Capital Report, Finland is the top performing country in the region and in the index overall. The country scored highest on the ‘ease of finding skilled employees’ indicator, while its 55-64 age group recorded the highest attainment rate of tertiary education of any country included in the sample. In addition, the quality of primary schools is high, with the country ranking first in terms of enrolment and quality of education for the under-15 age group. Life expectancy among the 55-64 age group was the highest recorded in the study. The country shares a great deal in common with neighbouring and second-placed Norway, in terms of unemployment and education.

Japan (Rank 5)
Japan is Asia’s highest-ranking country in the index and the only one to feature in the top 10. Looking at the headline figures, the country’s employment-to-population ratio is 56.8 percent and its unemployment rate only four percent, which, while impressive, is a far cry from Singapore, Asia’s next highest ranked country, at only 2.8 percent. Japan’s under-15 age bracket scored well, owing mostly to its basic education survival rate, quality of primary schools and incidence of child labour, ranking third of 124 with a score of 95.47. Of note also is the number of healthy life years beyond the age of 65 (11) and life expectancy at birth for the 55-64 category (76).

US (Rank 17)
Within its income group, the US scored slightly above average in every age category except under-15, and clocks in at an impressive 17th overall. The study shows that the country’s labour force participation rate is 62.5 percent, while its employment-to-population ratio is 57.8 percent. Where the country scores highest is in its secondary enrolment gender gap in the under-15 bracket, its youth literacy rate in the 15-24 bracket, and its healthy life expectancy at birth for the 55-64 category. However, the US scored a less-than-impressive 88.09 overall for its under 15 category, as a result of dismal primary and secondary enrolment, although the low score was offset by an impressive showing for the 15-24 age group.

Chile (Rank 45)
At 45, Chile is South America’s highest-ranking country in the 124-country sample, and places particularly well in the 15-24 age group. Barriers to mobility in education have decreased significantly in recent years, and a more educated workforce has done a great deal to change Chile’s labour market regulations for the better. The country’s labour force rate is just shy of 62 percent and the unemployment rate, at the time of the survey, sat at six percent. Perhaps the most notable achievement is that Chile is ranked 17th in terms of its tertiary enrolment rate among 15-24 year olds, and its basic education survival rate and secondary enrolment gender gap is unmatched in the region.

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Saudi Arabia (Rank 85)
Although Saudi Arabia has performed poorly over the years, the country’s growing emphasis on human capital in driving economic development means that the picture is fast improving. The gulf between the past and the present can be seen clearly in the WEF’s Human Capital Report, and whereas the 65-and-over age group ranked at 115 overall, the under-15 category placed 66th. Saudi Arabia has done a good job of fostering a range of diverse skills, for which it ranks 30th, and its rapidly expanding workforce stands the country in good stead for the future. A continued commitment to education means that the country will likely place higher in the years ahead.

Honduras (Rank 96)
Poverty is particularly acute in the West of Honduras, and, as a result, education and educational materials are sorely lacking. Of the five age categories, the country scores most poorly in the under-15 group, and ranks outside the top 100 countries on the quality of primary schools and basic education survival rate parameters. Unusually, the country’s secondary enrolment gender gap is first rate. As far as business is concerned, there is a distinct lack of talent in Honduras, and very few are what businesses would call skilled workers. On a scale of one to seven, the ease of finding skilled employees is 3.73, and high-skilled workers’ share of the overall 25-54 market is a lacklustre 12.9 percent.

Nigeria (Rank 120)
Although Nigeria’s working age population is verging on 100 million, a significant skills shortage means that the country has been unable to make good on its human capital potential. Over 25 years of military rule has resulted in a depreciation in the learning environment, and the country requires a far greater number of specialised workers to reverse the slide. Nigeria’s youth literacy rate is particularly poor, as is its primary enrolment rate, and without changing its education infrastructure, the country will struggle to climb up through the rankings. For more of an insight into the seriousness of the situation, Nigeria scored well-below average across all five categories in its income group.

Yemen (Rank 124)
Going by the overall index score, Yemen ranked last of the 124 countries contained in the study. The median age of the population is 18 years, and scores for the two oldest categories ranked particularly poorly. For example, in the 55-64 age group, the primary, secondary and tertiary education attainment rates all rank dead last, and it is the same for the 65-years-and-older group. The country’s capacity to retain talent, on a scale of one to seven, scores 1.89, whereas its capacity to attract talent clocks in at a marginally better 2.02. Positives can be taken from the fact that Yemen’s under-15 group scored 62.7 in the index overall, but this was the only age bracket to score above 42.