Global Human Capital Report ranks NZ 7th; GDP lags; stresses digital fluency and lifelong learning

Global Human Capital Report 2017 - GNI extract showing NZ is high on index, but lags behind the top group in Gross National Income per capita
Extracted from Global Human Capital Reports 2017

Last month a major international report was released by the World Economic Forum: The Global Human Capital Report 2017 – Preparing people for the future of work.

The Report provides a new benchmark for leaders to build the workforces of the future, and provides comparative tables and a score card for each of the 130 countries researched. Its assessment of skills needed for the future reinforce the economic and social need for digital literacy and digital inclusion.

New Zealand in 7th place overall for Human Capital

New Zealand scored very well at 74.14%, ranking in 7th place overall behind Norway 77.12%, Finland 77.07% Switzerland 76.48%,  United States 74.84%, Denmark 74.4% and Germany 74.3%.

Global Human Capital Report 2017 - GNI extract showing NZ is high on index, but lags behind the top group in Gross National Income per capita
Global Human Capital Reports 2017 – complete GNI-position comparison

However we lagged the top group in Gross National Income per person – see Figure. (GNI is similar to GDP, and includes income from overseas.)

We lag in (un-)employment, gender-gap, vocational training

The country score card looks at 21 aspects of Human Capital including capacity, deployment, development and Know-how.  Most ranking were in line with our high overall position, but our lowest ranking aspects include:

  • Labour force participation: 58th for 25-54 age group
  • Employment gender gap: 47th for 25-54 age group
  • Unemployment: 64th for 15-24 age group
  • Vocational education enrolement rate: 45th 
  • Know-how – Economic complexity: 46th

We ranked 22nd in Availability of skilled employees.

Report supports need for digital literacy/inclusion in building Human Capital

These rankings support the economic rationale of 20/20’s digital literacy work-ready skills and life-long learning programmes, and the high proportion of women participants. The (non New Zealand specific) body of the report includes (emphasis added):

“The Global Human Capital Report 2017 proposes a new benchmark for leaders to build the workforces of the future. The approach it advocates, based on the principle that all people deserve an equal opportunity to develop their talents, provides leaders with the means and the tools to navigate the changes we are already witnessing from the current wave of automation and successfully navigate the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”  (See box)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.”

“The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres…”

“… In addition to being a key economic concern, inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond, (January 2016, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.)

“In June 2016 the European Union launched its new Skills Agenda for Europe, stating that “90% of all jobs will soon require some level of digital skills; yet, today, 40% of Europeans have none.”

“Constructing ‘future-ready’ curricula includes reviewing core linguistic, mathematical and technological literacies and ensuring sufficient attention to building digital fluency.

“Any curriculum reform and programme design will benefit from close attention to ensuring the availability of high-quality teaching, appropriate funding infrastructure, and effective incentives to all stakeholders—building on the motivation of learners, and appropriately including all relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector. Additionally, a core weakness across most education systems today remains the ecosystem for lifelong learning.

“Innovation in this area will need to encompass openness to different educational routes such as expanding the availability of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), ensuring higher education remains affordable and appropriate, and expanding the offer of lifelong learning opportunities at and beyond the workplace, using hybrid online and offline tools and taking into account learner worker engagement. With changes to the labour market brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, governments, businesses and workers will also benefit from dynamically monitoring the labour market to ensure a stronger fit between people’s skills and the roles and occupations in which they are able to contribute.”

The report concludes

Technological change and its impact on labour markets calls for a renewed focus on how the world’s human capital is invested in and leveraged for social well-being and economic prosperity for all.

…  “The divide between formal education and the labour market needs to be overcome, as learning, R&D, knowledge-sharing, retraining and innovation take place simultaneously throughout the work life cycle, regardless of the job, level or industry.”

“Education delivery and financing mechanisms have gone through little change over the last decades. In many countries, many youth and children may find their paths constrained depending on the type of education they are able to afford, while others may not have access to even basic literacy and learning. On the other hand, many developed world education systems have made enormous increases in spending—with little explicit return. Early childhood education and teacher quality remain neglected areas in many developed and developing countries, despite their proven impact on learning outcomes. Both areas also suffer from lack of objective, global data.”

…”Yet others have cautioned of the risks to economic productivity of technological reticence at the cost of realizing the raw potential of new technological advancements unfettered.”

…”strategic and deep investments in human capital will be even more—not less—important than before. Governments, business leaders, educational institutions and individuals must therefore understand the magnitude of the contextual changes underway, assess current outcomes on human capital and then rethink their approaches to valuing, developing and deploying human capital comprehensively.”

“…it is our hope that the Report will encourage a shared vision of priorities for reform within education and employment and support leaders in advocating for investments in human capital in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

More information

The Global Human Capital Report 2017 – Preparing people for the future of work (PDF, 6.8 MB, World Economic Forum, September 2017)

World Economic Forum website:

NZ Scorecard from Global Human Capital Reports 2017
Extract from Global Human Capital Reports 2017