SA 24th in brain drain survey

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

South Africa has been ranked 24th out of 30 economies surveyed in the first Global Talent Index, a report which compares how well different countries are doing in the war for brains.

The Economist Intelligence Unit and executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles used seven categories to compile the list. South Africa is projected to improve slightly to 22nd place over the next five years.

Significantly, however, South Africa ranks lowest among the 30 countries when it comes to attracting talent both in 2007 and in 2012. This measure is based on research into the technical skills of the workforce, disposable income per capita, employment growth and gross domestic product growth.

Derick Boshard, senior partner at Heidrick & Struggles, said: "Being ranked last in the survey when it comes to attracting talent from the global talent pool is a serious problem especially when countries higher up the ladder are continuing to suck our own talent out of the country.

"South Africa has a massive challenge ahead to develop, nurture and attract talent in an international environment when skills are becoming increasingly sought after and increasingly mobile."

When it comes to the quality of its universities and business schools, South Africa ranks 27.

The country's best score was for attracting foreign direct investment. "The fact that South Africa jumps to 5th from 12th in the foreign direct investment category is quite stunning, but this will all come undone if we don't have the skilled people to do the work," Boshard said.