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Aon: Toronto Lowest Risk City in the World for Employers

Source: Aon

Posted on 27 Sep 2010

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A first-of-its-kind global study found Toronto to be the city with the lowest risk in the world to recruit, employ and relocate employees, according to Aon Consulting, the global benefits and human capital consulting business of Aon Corporation.

Aon Consulting's People Risk Index measured the risks that organizations face with recruitment, employment and relocation in 90 cities worldwide by analyzing demographics, education, employment practices and government regulations (See below for global rankings and U.S. highlights). According to the Index, the five lowest risk cities for employers are Toronto, New York, Singapore, London and Montreal. On the opposite end of the ratings, locations such as Dhaka, Bangladesh; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; and Tehran, Iran, represent the least desirable of the 90 cities for employers. (See below for table with 10 lowest and highest risk cities).

"The new risk ratings come at an opportune time as assessing employment risk takes on heightened importance as of late, from controversy over Arizona's strict new anti-illegal immigration law to recent strikes in China," said Rick Payne, chief research officer of Aon Consulting's Global Research Center, based in Singapore. "As companies face these and other employment risks as well as take a close look at new investment opportunities in emerging markets, the ratings can help companies systematically and consistently assess the relative risks they face when hiring, employing and moving staff."

Sibling Rivalry in the Five Lowest Risk Cities

Montreal and Toronto are among the five lowest risk cities primarily due to Canada's low level of corruption; strict enforcement of equal opportunity laws; health and retirement benefits; and high quality and broad availability of training facilities. The main difference between the two is due to Toronto's larger population as well as the quality and broader availability of training resources, according to Aon.

The results also found New York and London's favorable ratings to be attributable to world-class educational institutions and training facilities, and a large pool of qualified and experienced talent.

Singapore is the only city outside Europe and North America among the 10 lowest risk cities. Contributing to this rating is Singapore's strict laws on discrimination and occupational health and safety, flexibility on personnel costs, lack of corruption and willingness to work with the private sector on human resources related issues.

"A significant factor influencing the People Risk Index is government support," Payne said. "Cities with low risk typically have a government that is transparent, non-confrontational, and deal with employment issues fairly. Employers in these cities are less likely to be surprised by changes in government policies on employment, health care, and retirement. Therefore, they have fewer issues finding and retaining educated and experienced talent. These employers also have more flexibility to restructure their operations without fear of incurring significant unanticipated costs."

Still, analysis of these low risk cities shows room for improvement. For example, Toronto is not No. 1 in any category, even though it ranked No. 1 overall. In fact, it is 14 in demographics and 12 in employment practices. New York, on the other hand, ranked No. 1 in education and 2 in talent development. And Singapore is No. 1 in government support but is ranked 41 in education. (See below for table with rankings by areas of risk)

"As the report indicates, even the lowest risk cities are not perfect," Payne said. "For instance, the talent pool in Toronto and Montreal is small compared to New York or Los Angeles, which increases the risk of recruiting for certain types of jobs such as highly specialized financial jobs and design/visual arts jobs. Additionally, in Singapore the inflow of foreign talent helps to increase its talent pool despite its small population, low birth rate and aging workforce."

Trends from the Highest Risk Cities

A common contributing factor of the five cities with the highest risk is an urbanization rate faster than its city can manage. Dhaka, for example, has an estimated 12 million people living in a city originally designed for a population of 1 million. Ratings for education factors such as low literacy, limited spending on education, and low enrollment in secondary and tertiary education also are significant reasons for the high scores among the 10 highest risk cities, according to the People Risk Index.

"The education system of an overcrowding city faces great challenges to cope with the fast growing urban population," Payne said. "In general, the lack of basic human capital infrastructure such as education systems and training resources, coupled with poor government support and a culture of bias and favoritism, contribute to the high people risk that we observe in these cities."