I recently came across an article over on Global Services Beta that said Talent War 2012: U.S.A. Set to Win. Needless to say I was stunned – especially since the first paragraph ended on the U.S. labor market is set to become less open and flexible over the next five years amid fears of terrorism.
The U.S. has been winning the talent war not because it has been churning out the most skilled talent pool, but because it has been attracting the most skilled talent pool from around the world! Let’s face it, the US only has an estimated 301M people of the 6.602B people on the planet, or 4.56% of the world’s population. If we assume raw intelligence and capability is normally distributed throughout the world, which is a very reasonable assumption, that says that for every 100 of the best and brightest, the US can only expect to have 5. Now, it’s true that a great education system is often required to unlock a person’s raw potential, but that can be found in most of Europe, South America, India, South-East Asia, and South Africa. Furthermore, China has 1.322B to the US’s 301M and India has 1.130B. This says that China and India are likely to have four times as many people in any best and brightest list you care to come up with for every person the US has on that list. India already has a decent education system, especially in its richer provinces, and China has the cash to throw at the problem.
Of course, it takes more than bodies and education to build a great talent pool – it also takes the right culture – based in a free and open democracy where anyone with the talent, education, and the will to work hard and succeed (and make the country he or she is living in just a little bit better) is welcome. However, right now, the U.S. is more intent on building fences, preventing people from flying, and delaying permanent resident application processing until long after the original visas have run out – and this just doesn’t fit the bill. That’s not the culture that made the US one of the most admired countries in the world or the culture that attracted the best and brightest from all over the world to start new research programs and enterprises that put the US on the global map for everything from Astrophysics to Zoology, including the technology that launched the information age.
So, who will be the big winner? Although I’d like to say it will be a country like Canada and Australia, since they have the right education system and the right culture, I have to go with India. The fact of the matter is that with only 33M and 20M people respectively, countries like Canada and Australia do not comprise a significant percentage of world population.
What about the EU, you ask? Well, they’re too busy buckling under their own Euro-centric regulations that make it exceedingly difficult not to do business within the EU, or working 35 hour work weeks and complaining that even that is too much, to take a leap forward. It’s not just the US that is having problems being competitive.
Now I’m sure most of you disagree with this controversial opinion, and if you do, I’d love to hear yours. Just be sure to follow the comment rules and also indicate why you think I wrote this after drinking one too many Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and getting Yakko‘s anvil dropped on my head.