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Finland at the top of WEF's Human Capital Index

Finland is the highest ranking country in the world in terms of human capital, according to a fresh report by the World Economic Forum and Mercer published Thursday.

Kuva maailman talousfoorumin WEF listasta.
Image: World Economic Forum

Finland ranked as the number one country in the world on the Human Capital Index.

The index ranks 124 countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital, focusing on education, skills and employment. The report's creators say the report aims to understand whether countries are wasting or leveraging their human potential. 

“Finland is the best performing country in the region and on the index overall,” the report states.

“The country benefits from a well-educated young population with the second best basic education survival rate and the highest score for the quality of primary schools.”

Based on an adjunct WEF executive opinion survey, “Finland is also the country with the overall highest score on the 'ease of finding skilled employees' indicator, with even its 55 to 64 age group possessing the world’s highest attainment rate of tertiary education, highlighting the continuing long-term benefits of past human capital investments.”

Top ten

In second place on the index is Norway “possessing similar strengths and the lowest unemployment rate in the region for its 25 to 54 prime working age group.”

Switzerland ranked third on the index. Switzerland “benefits from a very high quality of primary schools and of the education system as a whole, but also from a strong rate of vocational training and high level of skills diversity,” the report states.

The index’s fourth highest ranked country is Canada, followed by Japan, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Belgium.

What is human capital?

“The index takes a life-course approach to human capital, evaluating the levels of education, skills and employment available to people in five distinct age groups, starting from under 15 years to over 65 years,” a press release on the report states.

The aim is to assess the outcome of past and present investments in human capital and offer insight into what a country’s talent base will look like in the future.

In the preface to the report, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab wrote that “talent, not capital will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century.”

“More than a third of employers globally reported facing difficulties in finding talent last year and nearly half expected talent shortages to have a negative impact on their business results. Yet the world’s pool of latent talent is enormous,” he wrote.

“To unlock it, governments, business leaders, educational institutions and individuals must each understand better the global talent value chain. Business in particular must re-think its role as a consumer of ‘ready-made’ human capital to proactively seek out, engage and develop people’s potential. Better data and metrics are critical to this undertaking,” Schwab wrote.

The WEF is a Swiss non-profit foundation and describes itself as “committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship.”

Mercer is an American global human resources and financial services firm based in New York City.

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