The cost of talent: How expensive are Canadians?

Employer branding firm Universum has just
released its 2012 Cost of Talent Index, which ranks the anticipated salaries of
college graduates in 20 countries.

What this is, it seems, is a study of what
students say they “expect” to earn.

So, the winner of either the best paid or the
most optimistic country is…Switzerland!

Swiss grads, reports Forbes, expect to take home
a decent pre-tax income of $6,612 a month. Canada came in fourth with
anticipated salaries of $4,594 a month. The worst of the top ten was the UK,
where it rains a lot and folks say they expect to take in just $3,299. Why

Here’s the full list.

The 2012 Cost of Talent Worldwide (monthly
salary, pre-taxes):

No. 1 Switzerland, $6,612 (up 27.5% from 2011)

No. 2 Norway, $5,913 (down .5% from 2011)

No. 3 Denmark, $5,489 (up .4% from 2011)

No. 4 Canada, $4,594 (up 5.4% from 2011)

No. 5 Germany, $4,451 (up .3% from 2011)

No. 6 United States, $4,220 (down .8% from 2011)

No. 7 Sweden, $4,125 (up 3.1% from 2011)

No. 8 France, $3,766 (up .1% from 2011)

No. 9 Finland, $3,748 (down 3.4% from 2011)

No. 10 United Kingdom, $3,299 (down 1.5% from

Graduates in Switzerland expect to do better
than last year, when the nation placed fourth in Universum’s rankings and
students anticipated salaries of $5,184. Note that the increase is a whopping

Canucks are next in terms of improvement with a
less impressive but still substantial 5.4% — we’re sitting at $4,594, up from
$4,369 last year.

According to a new report from CIBC, the
Canadian economy created 155,000 new jobs in the first six months of 2012 and
these were high quality jobs. The report’s author Benjamin Tal, however, warns
that the upward trajectory is unlikely to last. He says, “The slowing global
economy will work not only to soften the pace of jobs creation in the coming
quarters, but also decrease the quality of the jobs that are created.”

The idea that a student’s expectations can tell
us about a country’s economy is an odd one. But Swiss salaries are certainly
high. I did a little calculating based on the information at and
found that in Zug, the Swiss city with the highest reported income, the average
monthly income is $8810. Not bad.

“The talent in a market is always one step
ahead of the economy,” says Universum CEO Petter Nylander. “These
students care about their careers and are very well informed not just about
companies but also the job market and possibilities of economic growth [in
their countries]. This year’s results seem to reflect not just the current
weather—today’s economy—but they are a sign of climate change. We expect to see
some more big changes in the coming years.”


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