Talent the key to competitiveness, Deloitte study finds

Research with U.S. Council on Competitiveness sees Asia influence growing in the next decade.

01/24/2013


A report from Deloitte and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness shows the world’s manufacturing markets will get more competitive in the next five years. The key to winning that battle over the next five years will be talent.

The 2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index found that access to talented workers is the top indicator of a country’s competitiveness, followed by a country’s trade, financial and tax system, and then the cost of labor and materials.

“Nothing was more important to CEOs than the quality, availability, and productivity of a nation’s workforce to help them drive their innovation agendas,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman, Deloitte United States and consumer and industrial products industry leader, who co-authored the report and led the research team. “Enhancing and growing an effective talent base remains core to competitiveness among the traditional manufacturing leaders—and increasingly among emerging market challengers as well.”

The index ranks China as the most competitive manufacturing nation in the world both today and five years from now. Germany and the United States round out the top three competitive manufacturing nations, but, according to the survey, both fall five years from now, with Germany ranking fourth and the United States ranking fifth, only slightly ahead of the Republic of Korea. The two other developed nations currently in the top 10 are also expected to be less competitive in five years: Canada slides from seventh to eighth place and Japan drops out of the top 10 entirely, falling to 12th place.

Further, the Index finds that Germany’s slide in competitiveness holds true for several other European nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and the Czech Republic, which are all expected to experience a dramatic decrease in their ability to compete. Poland, for example, drops from 14th to 18th place on the index, while the United Kingdom drops from 15th to 19th place.

“America and Europe have continued to watch emerging markets mature and become formidable competitors over the past decade,” said Giffi. “While the Americas region will continue to show significant manufacturing prowess—with the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico all in the top 15 most competitive nations five years from now—many advantages are tilting toward Asia, which will have 10 of the top 15 most competitive nations within the decade.”

Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, said the index indicates a need for a change in policy at the federal level and action from the manufacturing community. “We need to better understand the highly complex forces driving the future of manufacturing and many of the structural changes reshaping the global economy,” Wince-Smith said. “Emerging nations are growing fast and strong. Wise policies and practices could unleash American strengths, turbo-charge our manufacturing engines, and raise technology commercialization to new heights, driving U.S. economic growth and job creation.”

The key to global competitiveness, the report found, was finding, training, and retaining talent. That’s been a persistent issue over the last decade. Plant Engineering readers have ranked a lack of skilled talent as their single biggest issue for the last seven years.

“Nothing was more important to CEOs than the quality, availability, and productivity of a nation’s workforce to help them drive their innovation agendas,” said Giffi. “Enhancing and growing an effective talent base remains core to competitiveness among the traditional manufacturing leaders—and increasingly among emerging market challengers as well.”

More than 85% of global executives “strongly agree” or “agree” that the availability of quality skilled talent needed for advanced manufacturing in the United States, Germany, and Japan makes those nations highly competitive—while just 58% say the same about China and 40% about India.

“The emerging superpowers in manufacturing will focus on building the advanced manufacturing capabilities and economic and political infrastructures that drive rapid growth and high-value jobs for their citizens, forcing 20th century manufacturing powerhouses to fend off the growing strength of more focused global competitors,” Giffi said.

To download the 2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report, please visit www.deloitte.com/globalcompetitiveness.



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