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Japanese talent needs Grooming

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A recent ranking of global talent placed Japan 20th in the world for competitiveness and worker quality. While not a terrible result, it does reveal Japan’s lack of readiness for the global economy as well as for the demands for innovation, flexibility and diverse aptitudes in workers.

The survey by Insead Business School analysed the basic government and business environment of different countries to gauge the extent to which they encourage creativity, responsiveness and adaptability in their businesses, and specifically to find how well those countries attract, develop and retain talented workers.

The top three countries, Switzerland, Singapore & Luxembourg, focussed on producing and retaining top quality workers despite the limitations of location, population or natural resources. Japan, by comparison, may be a victim of its past success. The push to become truly innovative has been delayed in Japan since the social and business climate turned inward. That trend will need to be reversed if Japan is to foster companies that not only compete globally but also can move into leading positions.

The two most critical areas

The most competitive countries traditionally have been a strong draw for immigrants. Japan needs to adjust its strategies for maintaining competitiveness by diversifying its workplaces.

This is case all the top-ranked countries and also for those just ahead of Japan which were Iceland (17th) Belgium (18th) and Estonia (19th). The gap between Japanese and non-Japanese workers is widening.

In terms of education, Japan also needs to revise its focus. What is not needed is the current one-way lecture type of education but rather a engagement with students in creative and critical activities. The countries that consistently valued and incorporated talent into its workforce had educational styles that developed analytical, interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills.

The importance of talent

Though Japan remains one of the world’s largest economies, it ranks relatively low in its potential to keep pace in the emerging world economy. As economies recover, the more sophisticated ones will evolve globally. The survey showed that “talent” may be the most important currency in business and in society.

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