Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are not doing enough to develop talent despite being higher-income economies, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum. The two Gulf countries have been ranked 85th and 93rd respectively in WEF's Human Capital Index which analyses 124 countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital.
Both countries rely heavily on expatriate workers in key sectors such as construction, retails and healthcare. In the Middle East and North Africa, Israel (29th) was ranked highest, followed by the United Arab Emirates (54th) and Qatar (56th).
Jordan (76th) and Egypt (84th) outperformed higher-income economies like Saudi Arabia (85th) and Kuwait (93rd) while Morocco (95th), Tunisia (98th), Algeria (114th), Mauritania (122nd) and Yemen (124th) were all placed near the bottom. Among the high income countries, those with a GDP per capita above $12,746, Finland, Norway and Switzerland held the top three spots in the index overall while Barbados (77th), Saudi Arabia and Kuwait held the last three spots.
The report said that when it comes to developing people’s talents and helping them reach their full potential, the concept of a world where no one is left behind remains a distant prospect. This is the case even in rich countries with well-developed educational systems and robust employment, the report said. Globally, Finland topped the rankings of the Human Capital Index in 2015, scoring 86 percent out of a possible 100. Norway (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), Canada (4th) and Japan (5th) made up the rest of the top five and were among a group of only 14 nations that have crossed the 80 percent threshold.
Among other large advanced economies, France was in 14th position, while the United States was in 17th position, scoring just under 80 percent. The United Kingdom held the 19th spot and Germany 22nd. Among the BRICS, the Russian Federation (26th) scored highest, with China next at 64th. Brazil was in 78th place, followed by South Africa (92nd) and India (100th).
In addition to the 14 countries that have reached 80 percent human capital optimisation, 38 countries score between 70-80 percent. A further 40 countries score between 60-70 percent, while 23 countries score between 50-60 percent and nine countries remained below 50 percent. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: “Talent, not capital, will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century.
"To make any of the changes necessary to unlock the world’s latent talent – and hence its growth potential – we must look beyond campaign cycles and quarterly reports. Dialogue, collaboration and partnerships between all sectors are crucial for the adaptation of educational institutions, governments and businesses.”
The Human Capital Index ranked 124 countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital, focusing on education, skills and employment. It aims to understand whether countries are wasting or leveraging their human potential.