BCG Henderson Institute

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By 2040, the supply of international talent will reach an all-time high, but it will be found in new places. Government leaders must prepare now to attract the workforce of the future.

Immigration is fundamental to the success of many of the world’s largest economies. But for a significant number of them, a critical evolution is underway. The talent pools that they have consistently drawn from will start to shift, as several global trends coalesce.

The first trend reflects sheer numbers. While many high- and middle-income countries face population declines – with the number of working-age people (ages 20-64) projected to shrink by 200 million by 2040 – globally the working-age population is set to increase by 700 million. Much of this growth will be in Africa, South America, and Asia.

The second trend results from new education opportunities. By 2040, 60% of working-age adults will hold a high school degree (up 13 percentage points from 2020), and 80% will live in Africa, Asia, or South and Central America. Europe and North America will collectively be home to only 19% of this group in 2040, down eight percentage points since 2020.

In other words: the supply of internationally mobile talent will be greater than ever, but it will be found in new places. Government leaders need to start planning now by determining not only where the new talent pools will be, but also which pools they can best attract – and start building bridges.

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