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In our last article, we discussed the revolutionary changes taking place in the 21st century global economy. As a result, over the last decade, there’s been a dramatic shift to a greater reliance on the global talent pool. Emerging economies with substantial talent pools include India, China, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Over the last decade, both India and China have been big winners in the shifting tides of a dynamic global economy. Their growing economies are directly related to the quality and quantity of their respective workforces.

While the U.S. economy remains the strongest in the world with more than $10 trillion gross domestic product in 2003, both India and China have seen dramatic increases in their economies in the last decade. In the period between 1993 and 2002, the U.S. saw its real gross domestic product grow by about 33 percent. During that same period, India and China saw their economies grow by 69 percent and 115 percent, respectively.

These economic trends are partially related to the dramatic trends we see in the numbers of working age adults in both India and China. While the U.S. will have a projected population of working age adults (aged 15 to 64) of about 200 million by 2010, the projected growth rate over the next 50 years will average less than 1 percent. In contrast, China’s working age population is expected to reach one billion people by about 2017 and India by 2033. However with China’s “one family, one child” population control policy, India will surpass China’s working age population by about the year 2030 and continue to grow.

These quantitative trends also are reflected in the numbers of college graduates in the three countries. The U.S. currently graduates about 1.3 million people each year; India and China each graduate about 2.5 million per year. In addition, about 5 percent of U.S. undergraduates major in science and engineering, compared to 42 percent in China.

The shift to the global talent pool also has seen dramatic shifts in employment sectors. While the U.S. has lost millions of manufacturing jobs over the last decade, China has become the world leader in manufacturing. They dominate industries such as clothing, textiles, and furniture. China is also the world’s leading manufacturer of consumer electronics and is ascending the technological ladder into aeronautical, biotech, and computer manufacturing.

India, meanwhile, has had dramatic growth in the outsourcing of global services. With global, Internet-based communication technology, corporations can farm out work processes and tasks all over the world; this practice is widespread and growing. India is a dominant global player in the outsourcing of such services as call centers; financial accounting, analysis, and market research; medical radiologists (CAT/MRI images); news bulletins/reporting; industrial research and development; and executive assistants.

As the global economy continues to move in new and unexpected directions, the quantity and quality of a nation’s workforce will be a major factor in economic growth or decline. In other words, talent truly does drive prosperity. IBI

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