Using Global Market Data to Create Dynamic Workforce Strategies

How Does The UK Labour Market Compare To The Rest of the World?

Organisations today need to make complex and quick decisions regarding sourcing, hiring and retaining talent to compete in global labour markets. Comprehensive data can be a key driver for better decision making as employers seek to implement more global workforce strategies.

The Total Workforce Index™

The Total Workforce Index™ (TWI) from ManpowerGroup can help organisations identify the most beneficial locations to invest in workforce engagement. TWI is the only index to use a proprietary formula to examine the total workforce and determine the rankings of Total, Contingent and Permanent workforce insights across 75 global markets. TWI measures the relative ease of sourcing, hiring and retaining a workforce for competing labour markets around the world, using more than 90 key factors related to the Availability, Cost Efficiency, Regulation and Productivity of each country’s workforce. The result is a comprehensive analysis that ranks countries where skills, productivity and labour laws make it most favourable to do business based on the unique requirements of an organisation.

How does the UK labour market rank globally?

The 2019 TWI provides an extensive amount of information at the local market level which can define workforce characteristics and support sourcing strategies, compensation levels and productivity measurements. Looking to the United Kingdom specifically, despite ongoing uncertainty the country continues to be a workforce leader, both on the European and global stage. Let’s look at the four core categories reviewed in the TWI to better understand the UK’s ranking and potential.

Workforce Availability

When deciding where to locate a workforce, businesses cannot overlook talent availability. This essential consideration ensures that a given market has the worker population required to meet your company’s needs.

The Workforce Availability ranking takes into consideration the availability of skilled workers with a high level of English, workforce diversity and the level of education available within the market. Globally, in the 2019 report the UK ranked 4th out of the total 75 countries reviewed, and 3rd within the EMEA region.

Top five markets

Cost Efficiency

When an organisation does not require specialised skills or high levels of English proficiency, they may focus more on the cost of skills instead.

Given the highly skilled nature of the UK’s workforce, it will not be a surprise that it remains expensive to source talent in the UK. Traditionally, there is a correlation between cost and market maturity, with the lowest cost markets also tending to be the least mature. These markets may rank favourably on cost, but often do not fare as well when ranked for availability, productivity or regulatory impact. Companies should look at which criteria are most relevant to their business needs as this is where the most importance should be placed.


Regulation measures the relative comparison of how restricted the terms and practices of workforce engagement are based on a standard set of regulations. Regulatory factors influence the potential of a market to yield productivity and cost-efficiency. When a market is heavily regulated but also highly cost-effective, with regards to wage levels, it may become more expensive than markets with less regulation due to the potential loss of productivity.

The UK is ranked 6th for total workforce regulation. This indicates continued progress for the country, as in 2018 it rose to 7th place after ranking 24th in 2017.

Total Workforce Regulation


Reaching the right balance between productivity and cost is difficult in any market. After all, in many cases the market with lower wages may become more expensive in the long run, based on the length of the workday and number of days in the week as well as the associated overtime costs.

Within the 2019 rankings, the UK has moved into the 5th position for total workforce productivity within the EMEA region but has moved out of the top 10 countries globally.

Total Workforce Productivity

What is the UK’s Overall Total Workforce Ranking?

When all the factors of the Total Workforce Index™ are reviewed together, the UK ranks as the 4th strongest country globally for workforce engagement. The UK’s performance has consistently improved over the past four years, moving from 9th place in 2016 to 7th in 2017 and 5th in 2018. The country’s mature market and flexible regulations coupled with high English proficiency and the availability of higher education make the UK workforce increasingly appealing to both European and global employers.

ManpowerGroup’s analysts and experienced workforce strategy consultants work with organisations every day to go beyond the numbers and rankings to provide robust knowledge and a deeper understanding of each of the TWI markets. Visit our TWI website today to gain a better understanding of the global trends and markets which are most relevant to your business needs.

You can access comprehensive workforce data at

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As workforce experts, ManpowerGroup finds work for millions of people around the globe every year, helping hundreds of thousands of companies attract, assess, develop and retain skilled workers.