The peaks of the Petronas Twin Towers is seen in central Kuala Lumpur, August 16, 2014. Malaysia's economy grew 6.4 percent in the second quarter, faster than expected, as exports kept up their strong performance and consumer spending stayed buoyant despite steps by the central bank to curb high household debt levels. REUTERS/Olivia Harris (MALAYSIA - Tags: BUSINESS CITYSCAPE)

MALAYSIA has dropped seven places to 28th among 63 countries ranked for their ability to retain and attract local and foreign high-skilled workers.

The World Talent Ranking (WTR) 2017 survey by Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development (IMD) gauges each country for investment in and development of home-grown talent, appeal to the overseas talent pool, and readiness in terms of skills and competencies in the talent pool.

Countries are given marks in each category.

The results released this month showed that Malaysia scored poorly in all three areas, and marked a drop of eight places in the area of appeal, one of the biggest drops among all other countries, from the year before.

“For this latest report, we are concerned with the brain drain score which has deteriorated as well as the weaker motivation level,” Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, was quoted saying in the New Straits Times.

Millions of Malaysians are living or working abroad on either a  permanent resident or work visa.

Last year, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi revealed that 54,000 Malaysians renounced their citizenship from 2010 to 2016.

According to Talentcorp, a government department tasked with bringing high-skilled Malaysians home, there were only 398 returners last year, 55.8% lower than the 900 in 2013 and far below the target of 800 returners.

In 2015 and 2014, there were 616 and 606 returners, respectively.

The 1MD report stated that a number of reasons led to Malaysia’s brain drain and drop in talent ranking, including lower oil prices, lower exports to China, and domestic political risks resulting in the negative perception of the country’s opportunities.

In the sub-category of female labour force, Malaysia also did particularly poorly, taking 53rd place worldwide as only 38.56% of its total labour force were women.

The country also did not perform well in the sub-category of renumeration in services professions, where its gross annual income including supplements such as bonuses earned it 55th place among 63.

The WTR survey takes into account education, apprenticeships, workplace training, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates in individual countries.

The slip in Malaysia’s talent ranking is in tandem with a separate gauge, the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017, where Malaysia dropped from 19th to 24th position.

Bris added that improving economic conditions might lead to improved results next year.

“We can however expect to see improvements in sentiment when we conduct our next in-depth survey between January and April,” he said.

Meanwhile, Singapore and Hong Kong led the way this year in Asia in drawing members of the global skilled workforce to the region, ranking 13th and 12th, respectively.

Singapore and Hong Kong were the only Asian countries positioned in the top 15 in the global ranking.