"Talent, not capital, will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century," claim authors of World Economic Forum's (WEF's) 2015 Human Capital Index. WEF ranked Canada first out of 124 countries in the youth talent category (ages 16-24) and fourth overall, placing them ahead of Japan (5th), U.S.A. (17th) and Germany (22nd). Meanwhile, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Switzerland rounded out the top five in the youth talent category.

WEF index indicates country's ability to fuel globally competitive innovation

WEF's Human Capital Index offers country rankings that compare levels of human capital across various regions and income groups. This year's edition identifies a number of key issues in education policy and workforce planning through measurement of crucial learning and employment outcomes. Sub-themes of "learning" include:

  • Enrolment in education: Enrolment rates across primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions help predict the composition of the future workforce.
  • Quality of education: It is important that the educational system not only provides basic education, but prepares young people to meet the needs of a competitive economy.
  • Education attainment: Where post-secondary education attainment is high, countries are not limited in their ability to adapt to new technology, innovate and compete on a global level.
  • Workplace learning: Once a member of the labour force, human capital continues to develop through workplace learning-by-doing, on-the-job-training, work exchanges with colleagues, and so on.

Under "employment," WEF's Human Capital Index measures the following:

  • Economic participation: Countries that engage members of different ages of males and females in the workforce stand to gain in the quality of human capital.
  • Skills: Countries performing well in the "skills category" had both a considerable share of people employed in medium and high-skilled jobs, and employers reported an ease in finding skilled employees for available positions.
  • Vulnerability: The use of child labour in less developed countries, which greatly undermines the quantity and quality of the future workforce.

"A nation's human capital endowment — the skills and capacities that reside in people and that are put to productive use — can be a more important determinant of its long term economic success than virtually any other resource," state the authors of the WEF index. "Because human capital is critical not only to the productivity of society but also the functioning of its political, social and civic institutions, understanding its current state and capacity is valuable to a wide variety of stakeholders."

Read the full report: WEF Human Capital 2015 Report

Learn what makes Ontario, Canada's workforce one of the most competitive in the world



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