When countries across the globe entered into a period of economic recovery during 2010, it became increasingly clear that emerging nations were bouncing back far quicker than their more established Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) counterparts. For example, while the global recession of 2008 and 2009 left more than 15 million American citizens unemployed and home-owners nationwide facing the burden of negative equity, nations such as China, Korea and India found that they were experiencing rapid growth as their respective gross domestic products (GDP) soared.
It was generally accepted that this was because these developing nations were less damaged by the original financial crisis, as they were not encumbered with significant debt before the events of 2008. Not only this, but countries such as China and India did not officially enter a period of recession, and instead suffered solely from diminished economic growth. However, nations that experienced a quicker than expected economic recovery also performed outstandingly well in the World Education Rankings released in 2010, which suggests a correlation between prospering economies and financial sectors with strong teaching systems.
Switzerland certainly followed this trend, and recorded a ranking of 14th in these world listings. In terms of mathematics, the country achieved the eighth highest score, and significantly outperformed nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The nation's performance is largely the result of a varied and flexible educational system, as both the federal government and a total of 26 regional cantons share responsibility for higher and tertiary learning. Not only this, but the Swiss Financial Institution and Swiss Banking School also provide advanced Ph.D. programs for students, with an emphasis on teaching wealth management and private banking.
This educational system is certainly not wasted in Switzerland, as banks and lending institutions play a significant role within the national economy. In 2009, the country's financial sector employed an estimated 195,000 people, which accounted for 5.8% of the entire Swiss workforce. Not only this, but Switzerland is also a world leader when it comes to offshore private banking and wealth management. Given that Swiss based banking organizations UBS and Credit Suisse are both major forces within the global financial market, they are also responsible for job creation on a worldwide scale.
Canada was another nation to outperform the U.S. in the World Education Rankings of 2010, with an overall placing of 10th and an unusually consistent performance across reading, mathematics and science. In fact, this level of consistency and reliability is also a significant feature of the Canadian economy, and this was most notable during the aftermath of the global recession. While the U.S. economy continued to spiral downwards during the formative months of 2010, the conservatively managed financial services sector within Canada remained stable while offering enormous security to its employees, businesses and citizens.
As a testament to this, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system as the most reliable for four years running. As prudent lending, in particular, has continued to consolidate a strong financial service sector and create opportunities for growth and overseas investment, 267,000 nationals are employed within the industry, and there has been a 21.5% rise in full time banking employment during the last 10 years.
Ranking second among OECD registered countries, Finland's students continue to excel as standard bearers for educational excellence. Undoubtedly operating the single most innovative and unique educational system in the world, Finland has turned its back on the centralized and evaluation driven model adopted by the majority of western nations. Although Finland spends an estimated 30% less per student than authorities in the U.S., 66% of all students attend college and enter into higher education. In addition to this, 93% of Finnish students graduate from high school, and this is nearly 18% higher than the overall rate recorded in the U.S.
Given this and the fact that a further 43% of Finnish high school students go on to study at vocational schools, there is a huge opportunity for individuals to learn practical financial skills that can be applied to the fiscal sector. There is also ample opportunity for these skills to be utilized, as the financial management sector grew to a total worth of more than 1 billion euros in the decade between 2000 and 2011. As of 2009, Finnish companies within the national financial sector also employed a total of 14,554 staff across more than 5,000 offices, with finance and business services accounting for 14.5% of the country's total workforce.
The Bottom Line
The link between countries with outstanding educational systems and strong financial service sectors is becoming increasingly prominent, and the speed with which nations such as Switzerland, Canada and Finland recovered from the effects of the global recession also showcased extraordinary robustness. In terms of defining why the educational systems employed by these nations have proved so consistently successful, it is interesting to note that each is extremely federated and flexible and far removed from the centralized model favored historically by developed nations.
In relation to how these systems have benefited each nation's financial service sector, the global educational rankings reveal that students in Switzerland, Canada and Finland have showcased an exceptional and consistent understanding of core mathematic principles. This outstanding level of numeracy forms the foundation of any financial sector job or service, and when coupled with evolved higher educational programs and diverse vocational courses it helps to develop a wide portfolio of skills to suit private banking and lending organizations. This is certainly something from which nations like the U.S. and the U.K. can learn from as they seek to establish long-term economic growth and stability.