Competitiveness and talent are decisive factors for foreign investment – Slovenes need to change their attitude

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    “We are witnessing a global brain circulation and so Slovenia will have to strengthen its attractiveness for talent. We need to be able to reverse the brain drain, and attract young people to return home to use their experience gained abroad,” was one of the key messages of the 7th FDI Summit Slovenia 2016 which was attended by 100 leading representatives from business and politics.

    “No company can be competitive without talented individuals, and no country can be a welfare state without competitive businesses,” stated Professor William Lazonick, University of Massachusetts Lowell (USA) and visiting Professor and Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana. But where the talent comes from and how it is transformed into competitive products and services, and under what conditions competitive products are transformed into sustainable prosperity with stable and sustained economic growth, were the questions asked by Professor Lazonick, whose lecture was meaningfully titled the ‘Wealth of nations’, concluding: “In the welfare economy there are well developed labour and financial markets as the consequence, not the cause, for the wealth of nations.”


    “This year, in the Global Prosperity Index, Slovenia is placed 20th among 149 countries in the world, ahead of Japan and Hong Kong. When measuring prosperity, we monitor more than 100 factors. Whilst Slovenia is first in terms of environment and also ranked well in social capital (well-functioning social networks based on reciprocity, trust and cooperation; with a high level of volunteering) and in personal freedom.”, said Alexandra Mousavizadeh, Director of the Prosperity Index, the Legatum Institute based in London.

    “In the EU you will not find a government that does not want to talk about their plans for raising competitiveness. However, the fact remains that some succeed in these terms but others do not. The reason for this lies in the very limited view of what affects competitiveness. It is not only politics or the real economy and finance – but together they have an impact! And it becomes dangerous if any of them is overlooked,” emphasised Dr Jure Stojan, Director of Research and Development at the Institute for Strategic Solutions.


    “I see progress in corporate governance and in raising investment, both domestic and foreign,” said Imre Balogh, CEO at DUTB (Bank Assets Management Company) during the panel on competitiveness led by Tine Kračun, Director, Institute for Strategic Solutions. “Slovenia is still too much thinking about itself,” stated Branislav Vujovic, Founder and President of the New Frontier Group, “you must be open to the world and need to understand the revolution of digital transformation. This will significantly alter the functioning of all the activities in all spheres of society.”

    “We are facing a war for talent, 36 percent of the largest companies around the world have problems with employment because they cannot find talented individuals who would be engaged. On the other hand, there are many young people in the EU is without a job,” said Dr Andreja Kodrin, strategist and founder of collaboration platform, Challenge:Future.

    “We are not talking about the competitiveness of companies anymore, but the competitiveness of continents, a good example is Malta which has on its list of priorities that it should be attractive for young talent,” said Matej Potokar, General Manager Customer Service and Support, Microsoft Western Europe. “We have enough knowledge, but are we able to use it efficiently”, highlighted Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister for Education, Science and Sport. “Slovenia needs young talent who go abroad, but also repatriate with more experience, more knowledge. From this perspective, fear of a brain drain is unnecessary but the problem is that we must ensure that these people return,” stressed panel moderator for talent, Marko Mlakar, Director and Partner, Amrop Adria.


    The closing remarks of the Summit were presented by Sonja Šmuc, Managing Director at The Managers’ Association of Slovenia, and long-time journalist of the BBC and Director of Communications at the Legatum Institute, Giles Dilnot. They agreed that prosperity, competitiveness and talent are decisive factors for foreign investment and Slovenes need to change their attitude towards these drivers and not miss the opportunities when they come!

    By Tonja Blatnik

    Foto Anže Krže, Mediaspeed