The Human Capital Index effectively captures a country’s future productivity

The research has been pointing for over 100 years now towards the value of investing in human skills [1] yet the reality of our heeding the voice of reason and bridging that gap between investment in technical, physical and other such tangible assets is sorely lacking.  The drivers of such disparity I propose centre in a lack of clarity of what the long term commitment to human capital requires.  This is where I believe the Human Capital Index (HCI) can offer a guide and baseline from which to measure those longer term rewards.  Our inability to date to see the bigger picture can no longer be ignored [2] and although far from comprehensive or indivisible, the HCI has the potential to galvanise countries into action.

Actual Dollars Spent

The first question I have on whether the HCI effectively captures a country’s future productivity is – What is Productivity?  The definition from Cambridge dictionary states ‘the rate at which a company or country makes goods, usually judged in connection with the number of people and the amount of materials necessary to produce the goods’.  However I would question is this the only way in which we can define productivity. Certainly there are others that pose such questions, like writer Charles Duhigg who defines productivity as ‘making certain choices in certain ways‘.  I propose that the HCI captures both of these versions of the definition of productivity.

It’s a sad reality that since the inception in 2015 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals there has not been significant improvements in the attainment of those goals towards the targets set for 2030 [3] yet when you look at the Gross World Product the world economy continues to grow exponentially, projected at around US$86.60 trillion in nominal terms, according to IMF [4] for 2019.  How did we get to a point where there is enough money, food and resources in the world to ensure every human being has the basic necessities of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs met yet there is increasing inequality among and within countries. With our most vulnerable being left further and further behind, the urgent attention needed on climate action, there is surely no doubt the global problems we are facing must be measured in terms of something other than financial return.

UN sustainable_development_goals

Change however happens in incremental, retrospective or immediate terms, depending on your perspective and the precedence of using the force of an object to divert the course of it’s trajectory isn’t just a concept but a universal law – that’s what we have the opportunity to experience through the HCI.  Change In terms of productivity that uses the world’s focus on GDP to widen the lens and bring in the human capital component of the equation which has been inadequately represented on our current path to growth.  The trajectory of our future as a human species and in terms of the world surely can’t ignore such factors which still answer the question of what financial return is expected to be realised in such an investment.

The impetus of such measurement is to determine the outcomes of planned initiatives in their ability to move the needle, drive accountability and ultimately measure success.  The Human Capital Project and resultant Index provides the foundation from which a country can implement a data informed approach to determining the priorities for investment that focuses on a future which will concurrently address the urgent needs highlighted by the 2030 Agenda [3].  One of the key determining factors in whether the HCI will effectively capture a country’s future productivity can’t be answered here or anywhere categorically because that key determining factor will be the engagement of the countries involved and the World Bank Group’s ability to capture the data and continue to progress the projects pre-supposition to scale up the measurement and research.  It is this human being’s hope and earnest request that my country build’s the #AusWeWant [5].



[1] A Study of Engineering Education, authored by Charles Riborg Mann and published in 1918 by the Carnegie Foundation.

[2] The Global Human Capital Report 2017

[3] The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019


[5] The Australia We Want 2016

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