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What’s the Global Cost of Talent in 2016?

The cost of talent will always be a key factor in employment considerations. Achieving optimum talent attraction requires that you provide competitive wages, but you do not want to overpay. You have to match your employer branding and wages with the salary expectations of the country, market and individual wage earner.

Universum’s latest research will help employers with their recruitment and talent acquisition efforts by uncovering the career and salary expectations of the world’s future business and engineering workforce. As the survey includes the income anticipations of talent from over 50 countries, this will be particularly interesting for companies operating in multiple markets or those who are thinking about expanding in to other territories.

What is the Cost of Talent?

Universum’s latest eBook, Cost of Talent 2016, is based on the feed from 580,397 Business and Engineering students from 57 countries that participated in Universum’s 2016 Talent Survey. In order to assess the cost of talent in each country we asked Business and Engineering students what they expect to earn in their first job after graduating university, the exact question being:

What salary do you expect to earn in your first job after graduation?

Cost of Talent 2016 »

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Some Key Findings

Although the findings show that people are generally good at valuing their worth in the context of their market, a few countries are outliers.

  • In Panama and Chile, engineers expect to be compensated noticeably higher compared to the cost of living.
  • Many of the Eastern European markets’ business talent and others from Ghana, Vietnam and Spain, seem to be willing to accept relatively modest salaries compared with the annual cost of living.

Yet expected salary earnings overall tend to be in line with local economies. On the highest end of future salary earners in the world, business candidates from Switzerland expect $79,453 per year, while their counterparts in Denmark and the United States ask for $57,932 and $52,655 respectively. On the bottom end, there is business talent in Romania and Vietnam asking for only $7,086 and $6,041 per annum each.

See full ranking »

Gender Inequality in Pay

Across the globe, we are continuing to see male talent in both fields of studying demand and negotiate higher salaries than women do, unfortunately, women’s lower salary expectations do not help to eliminate the pay gap and in many circumstances have the opposite effect. Out of the 57 countries that took part in our research only Kenya, Morocco and the UAE were contrary to this trend. There are many explanations to this global gender wage gap problem.

And thus we cannot squeeze a solution in to one easy to digest soundbite. Some of the most common and obvious explanations to this troubling phenomenon are that to this day men and women are still aiming for different jobs and industries meaning that certain fields are inundated by one sex. This means that female talent entering these jobs and industries with a lack of female peers find it harder to reference what they should be earning.


“On the engineering side of things the disproportion in the ratio between male and female talent studying engineering could be one of the key factors affecting the pay gap. Despite the increasing numbers of women studying engineering they are still greatly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Being the majority enables male engineering to better compare their own expectations to the salaries of their recently graduated peers. It is furthermore more likely that a male engineering student’s father or older male relative already works in the same field, making them more acquainted with what to expect in terms of salary from the industry and future employers”.

Universum Research Project Manager, Daniel Eckert

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Thought leadership from Universum industry experts to intrigue and challenge current employer branding professionals and inspire those who are just beginning their talent branding journey.

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