Bangladesh remains among the bottom 10 countries in terms of developing, attracting and retaining talent, shows a new global report.
It is ranked 118th out of 125 countries in the 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) that measures a nation's competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can develop, attract and retain.
Last year, the country held the 114th position among 119 nations in the GTCI.
The index, compiled by INSEAD, a global business school, in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group, provides a unique resource for decision-makers to understand the picture of global talent competitiveness and develop strategies for boosting talent competitiveness.
The annual benchmarking report, launched in 2013, assesses the capability of countries to contest for talent.
This year's report, released last week, is prepared on the basis of 68 variables. It has put special focus on entrepreneurial talent -- how it is being encouraged, nurtured and developed throughout the world and how this affects the relative competitiveness of different economies.
The theme of the GTCI's sixth edition is "Entrepreneurial Talent and Global Competitiveness".
According to this year's GTCI, Switzerland continues to top the index followed by Singapore and the US as in the previous year.
Yemen is at the bottom of the index at 125th, just below Congo and Burundi.
Bangladesh is positioned just after Ethiopia, and one notch above Nepal.
With a population of 164 million and GDP of almost $250 billion, a majority of Bangladeshis belong to lower-middle income group, the report says.
Yet, the country ranked below several low-income countries including Rwanda, Tajikistan, Gambia, Senegal and Tanzania.
Among the South Asian countries, Bangladesh's position is not encouraging.
Except for Nepal, all the countries in the region are ranked above Bangladesh. India is ranked 80th, Sri Lanka 82nd, Pakistan 108th and Bhutan 83rd.
Talking to The Daily Star, Zahid Hussain, lead economist at the World Bank's Dhaka Office, said Bangladesh's poor ranking in the GTCI has to do with weaknesses in the policies and institutions affecting prospects for growth, security of property rights and availability of complementary resources.
"Because of the country's poor competitiveness on this front, we find it hard to retain our own high skilled and highly educated Bangladeshis, unlike China, South Korea and India, or to attract back citizens who have acquired high-tech human capital in advanced economies.
"We need to leapfrog in this area first by getting the basic rights, that is, creating an enabling environment, securing both physical and intellectual property and enhancing digital connectivity for entrepreneurship to prosper," he added.
The ranking is based on what the GTCI considers as four “pillars” called “enable” (reflecting a country's regulations and markets), “attract” (reflecting a country's capability to lure resources), “grow” (reflecting the ability to improve self-competence through education and training), and “retain” (reflecting an ability to maintain domestic and overseas talent).
The index indicates that Bangladesh has a lot to do to attract, grow and retain talent.
For instance, the country was placed 122nd with regard to attracting talent.
Similarly, it performed worse than many of its lower-middle income peers when it comes to growing talent. It was ranked three notches above the country at the bottom.
Bangladesh, however, did slightly well in terms of creating an environment that nurtures talent as it was ranked 102nd.
But when it comes to providing vocational and technical skills, it is ranked 116th.
Bangladesh showed a bit better performance in Global Knowledge Skills by securing the 103rd position.
The country's position in some of the sub-parameters is also not encouraging.
For example, Bangladesh is placed 78th in terms of the education system's relevance to the economy. But it is also poorly rated and is among the bottom 20 countries in terms of availability of scientists and innovation output.
The report highlighted that a handful of the workforce in the country is enrolled in the pension system, resulting in a rank of 107 in this parameter.
The country did fairly well in terms of ease of hiring (1st along with several other nations) and business-government relations (83rd), but did not do well in terms of government effectiveness (104th), corruption perception (109th) and political stability (112nd).
Bangladesh is also placed 75th with regard to the relation of pay to productivity.
The country performed worse in the environmental sector as it ranked 123rd. It has to work a lot to improve social protection where it was placed 121st.
It was ranked 122nd in terms of ease of doing business, one of the key components for attracting foreign direct investment.
When it comes to doing business, Bangladesh is the worst performer among the South Asian countries.
Bhutan is the best place for doing business in South Asia and even problematic Pakistan is in a better position than Bangladesh.
The country is also very weak in luring foreign direct investment and international students.
The report shows that the country's biggest challenge lies in improving its ability to attract, grow and retain talent.
Above all, there is a need to address its poor level of growth, and improve vocational training and technical skills.