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Now the top-paid jobs are in developing nations
Fifty years ago it was common to label manufactured products from matches to magnifying glasses and from fountain pens to frying pans with their country of origin. Those were the days before globalization, when products were predominantly made in one country rather than, as today, assembled in one country from components made across the world.
The label 'Made in England' or 'British Made' carried a certain cachet, at least among UK consumers. They saw it as a guarantee of quality, in contrast to cheaper and, therefore, they reasoned, inferior products that were 'Made in China', 'Made in Hong Kong' or even 'Empire Made'.
Today, of course, things are very different. Any country is capable of producing high-quality goods and few consumers attach much weight to country of origin in most of their purchasing decisions.
Take the case of India. In the article 'A passage to quality' from the October 2012 issue of Quality World, Jessica Pike highlights the important role played by product quality and quality management in the national economy, with companies like Tata Steel, Jet Airways and the State Bank of India among the best.
A World Trade Organization report published last July confirmed that India has actually overtaken China in its export growth rate, recording an increase of 16.1% in 2011 and topping the list of major trading countries in the world.
Such export-led, quality-based growth is increasing the competition for talented in employees not only in India but also in emerging economies across the globe. As Martin Dewhurst, Matthew Pettigrew and Ramesh Srinivasan (315880) point out in their article 'How multinationals can attract the talent they need' from issue 3 of the 2012 McKinsey Quarterly: 'Talent in emerging economies is scarce, expensive and hard to retain.'
In China, say the authors, barely two million local managers have the managerial and English-language skills multinationals need. One leading bank pays top people in Brazil, China and India almost double what it pays their peers in Britain. And a recent McKinsey survey in China found that senior managers in global organizations switch companies at a rate of 30 to 40% a year-five times the global average.
One problem is that keen local businesses are increasingly taking the best local people. Another is that executives from developed markets appear disinclined to move - perhaps, suggest the authors, because they prefer to stay close to home in uncertain times.
Martin Dewhurst et al. offer advice on tackling the problem, including: creating opportunities for high-fliers in emerging markets to lead, even if they have not served long apprenticeships in a developed economy; launching programs to improve understanding, generate trust and break down cultural barriers; actively managing the brand as an employer, which may require building a relationship with employees' families or tapping into broader causes that workers embrace; and helping managers posted abroad to familiarize themselves with new markets while maintaining their connections and influence at home.
The authors conclude that, as the world's economic centre of gravity continues to shift from developed to emerging markets, more companies will wrestle with these issues. While some definitive best practices may eventually appear, the global talent market is in flux - just like the global economy.