updated 5/4/2011 7:16:22 AM ET 2011-05-04T11:16:22

CHICAGO, May 4, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Heidrick & Struggles Global Talent Index released today shows that demand for talent across the globe is outstripping supply and that countries are not moving fast enough to prepare workers for the needs of tomorrow's economy. In addition, the report finds one in three executives worldwide are not satisfied with the quality of hires over the last two years, raising questions about the ability of companies to provide sustained economic growth, according to the leadership advisory firm.

"Our talent index points to looming talent wars, and the best employees will vote with their feet and move to regions and companies that provide them with the best opportunities," said Kevin Kelly, CEO of Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSII), the leadership advisory firm providing executive search and leadership consulting services worldwide.

"Nations aren't developing their talent effectively – hindering economic opportunities for their future. The most pressing question is determining which regions are cultivating workers who will bring home domestic success tomorrow. Right now, there isn't a clear-cut winner," Kelly said.

According to the Global Talent Index, the United States leads the world for talent and is projected to remain at the top spot in 2015. At the same time, other countries are closing the gap with the U.S. due to increased spending on education and more open labor laws – pointing to future concerns about competitiveness.

Key Global Talent Index Findings:

  • China will make significant jump - China is projected to have the largest score improvement in 2015, boosted by Beijing's increasing willingness to embrace foreign workers.
  • Canada will leap due to energy boom - Canada is projected to have the greatest movement in the index from today to 2015, moving six spots to number 8, as a result of increased investment in its economy from the gas and oil industries.
  • India's workforce is eye-catching - Despite India's own rapid rise in employment opportunities, it is unfortunately offset by a continuing poor standard of mainstream education.
  • Nordic power play - The Nordic region is represented by four countries in the 2011 top ten. Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all benefit from high government spending on education.
  • Europe needs additional manpower - European countries overall maintained their rankings from today to 2015, but they are challenged by a low birth rate.
  • Asia Pacific is on fire - Singapore and Hong Kong economies benefit from their openness to international trade, thus catapulting them upwards on our index.
  • Australia has top-notch education - Australia comes in at sixth place on the index, in large part because of its high-quality universities and labor force.

The Heidrick & Struggles Global Talent Index was completed in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, which developed a proprietary methodology to rank 60 countries on their ability to attract and retain talent.

"Companies' competition for talent is certain to become fiercer in the developing world in the coming years," said Denis McCauley, Executive Editor, Business Research with the Economist Intelligence Unit. "The talent index clearly shows that the emerging countries, China and India in particular, cannot improve their infrastructure fast enough to keep up with the growth of their white-hot economies."

In addition, Heidrick & Struggles commissioned a survey of more than 400 executives to gauge their attitudes on hiring prospects, showing that many executives are concerned about the ability of their recruits. Among other findings of this year's Talent Index:

  • Half of executives surveyed report devoting more time and resources to bring employees up to speed, compared to two years ago.
  • A full 41 percent of respondents said that limited creativity in overcoming challenges is a primary shortcoming of management-level hires, with limited experience within a multinational organization.
  • In Asia, a full 52 percent of executives said their workforce is limited by a lack of creativity, which leads to problems in adapting to changing circumstances.

"We know that having the right people in place is one of the greatest competitive advantages for a company, and our talent survey points to a number of questions about whether the workforce is ready to meet the challenges of the future," Kelly said.

For in-depth analysis of each country and the results of the survey, please visit www.GlobalTalentIndex.com.

About the Global Talent Index:

The research undertaken for the study by the Economist Intelligence Unit consisted of three main initiatives. First, the Global Talent Index launched initially with 30 countries in 2007, was updated and also expanded to include 60 countries. The Index benchmarks countries on their capacity for developing, attracting and retaining talent, both today and projected to 2015. Second, to gauge corporate views on the talent outlook for businesses, a global survey of 441 senior executives – nearly half having human resource management responsibilities –was conducted in late 2010 and early 2011. To complement the quantitative research, discussions were also held with senior human resources executives and experts to obtain their insights on the most pressing talent challenges facing businesses and countries.

About Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSII) is the leadership advisory firm providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services, including succession planning, executive assessment and development, talent retention management, transition consulting for newly appointed executives, and M&A human capital integration consulting. For almost 60 years, we have focused on quality service and built strong leadership teams through our relationships with clients and individuals worldwide. Today, Heidrick & Struggles' leadership experts operate from principal business centers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit www.heidrick.com.

CONTACT: Wendi Taylor Nations
         +1 (312) 496 1810
         wtaylornations@heidrick.com

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