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The eighth edition of Global Talent Competitiveness Index – GTCI – 2021 has been published. This year it has been co-produced by INSEAD, France, and Portulans Institute, a think-tank based in Washington, DC, and Geneva.

GTCI measures talent along set parameters in various countries of the world, which more or less remain the same. In the 2021 report, 134 countries are included. The complete report has 328 pages and those interested may follow the link at the end to see the full report.

Discussion and Sum Up

The eighth edition of GTCI report came in the background of COVID19 which had impacted the whole world and continues to do so. According to the organizers, this is a work in progress, fed by the reactions, suggestions, and criticisms, received from its users and readers. And the purpose of the GTCI is to be a tool for action.

Following key messages emerge from the GTCI 2021 report.

Message 1: The pandemic shook organizations in ways that may become permanent features of tomorrow’s workplace. As the pandemic spread, the uncertainty about future, speed, and lack of treatment made the world stand still for several weeks. Work from home was organized wherever possible, new tools were created for collaboration among teams and the momentum started rolling. The organizations learned that it was not entirely necessary to have a fixed office space with lots of amenities, and that work from home could remain a permanent option. They also realized that it saved hugely on cost which went into maintaining a decent office. Even in Pakistan, many organizations are continuing with work from home. Other parameters have been adjusted around this fact.

Message 2: COVID generated a series of shockwaves across the global talent landscape, which will have long-term effects on labor markets. The employers realized that availability of talent does not have to be restricted to geography, the employees found that they were free to choose to work from anywhere, that they could go for better work-life balance. Those having compulsion of being in jobs which required physical presence might have realized they were at a disadvantage, and they may rethink about their career choices, if they can. The redefined choice of careers, the freedom to work from anywhere, shall have long-term impact on how the labor market develops.

Message 3: Governments are back on center stage, and recovery packages will have a significant importance in shaping labor markets and talent competition in the coming years. Yes, the governments acted quickly due to threat of economic collapse and social disruptions. They mobilized resources quickly, diverted resources from other sectors and supported people. The budgetary constraints were disregarded, and all out efforts were launched. However, all countries, and particularly smaller economies are suffering due to the exorbitant cost of COVID relief packages. The recovery will take a long time. The talent demand is also changing due to greater emphasis on certain segments such as healthcare, digital transformation, and environment.

Message 4: In the post-COVID new normal, inequalities may grow among workers, depending on their sector of activity and their level of qualification. It is reasonable to predict that the resumption of growth and employment will not be even across socio-economic categories, sectors, or levels of qualification. We are already seeing the effects in Pakistan where the less qualified are finding it hard to land a job, and some of the usual employment sectors are not hiring like they used to do.

Message 5. In the emerging post-COVID economy, international inequalities have started to widen again. The emerging economies are still far below in the development and adoption of digital skills, while developed countries with greater resources and better preparedness are taking over rapidly. The poorer countries have fast become poorer. Collapse of Sri Lanka and many African economies is evidence of rising inequality.

Message 6: There is, however, encouraging news on the global competitiveness scene, as a number of middle-income economies show significant progress and dynamism. China and Russia joined the GTCI league of talent champions, Chile entered the top quartile for the first time, and UAE the strongest talent champion by offering innovative ways to attract and retain talent. UAE is a different place, because it attracts talent from around the world, and is not dependent on the local talent.

Where is Pakistan?

We have looked at the Pakistan situation in detail. With an overall ranking of #107 among 134 countries, we are not doing well in most areas.

We are poor in general and in comparison with our neighbors, Turkey, Iran, and India. We are marginally better than Bangladesh which is mostly at the lowest ranks.

The successive governments are the biggest obstacle in the development of talent in Pakistan. They either did not have a policy at all, or had policies which were not well thought, or the policies did not attach required resources, or the policies inadvertently created disparity and talent stifling.

The education never became a priority for any government, and therefore, the budget allocation remained small. Governments took their hands off education long time back, and the private sector took over, whose primary objective was profiteering. They still make money and have become bolder and more powerful. The fact was obvious when most recently, private schools rejected Single National Curriculum because it hit their economic interest directly.

There is no discussion about talent development at any level. Our educationists are not real, our institutions are producing degree-holding zombies, and our teachers are not true to their profession. There is no calculation of what type of talent we need and how to develop it.

The solutions lie within the problems.

We must identify the talent need at home and at global level, formulate policies to enable, attract, grow, and retain talent. It will take time, but only after we start the process. The politically motivated, myopic, window-dressing kind of steps such as establishing a handful of model schools are not the solution, they may become part of the problem.


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The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021 (

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