IRELAND has fallen seven places to 21st in a global ranking of countries best able to develop, attract and retain highly skilled workers.
The 'World Talent Rankings' by IMD, a Swiss business school, looks at the performance of 63 countries in three main categorise: investment and development, appeal, and readiness.
These categories are broken down further to examine education, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates.
Ireland performed poorly in the area of investment and development of home-grown talent, falling eight places to 42nd.
Within this, the country ranked 38th for sufficiently implementing apprenticeships, while it was ranked 29th for both government expenditure on education and employee training in companies.
In recent years the number of young people opting to pursue apprenticeships in Ireland has increased.
However, it is coming from a low base - with as few as 2pc to 3pc of school leavers pursuing apprenticeships as a route into work, compared with countries such as Switzerland or Germany where the figures are around 60pc.
In the 'appeal' category - that is the extent to which a country taps into the overseas talent pool - the country was ranked 11th, a fall of six places on its performance last year.
And while Ireland ranks in the top five for both the prioritising of attracting and retaining talent, and worker motivation in companies, it ranked 38th for cost of living as an incentive for professionals.
This comes on the back of research from CPL Resources last month, which found that one in five employers are considering moving out of Dublin in response to rising costs.
Elsewhere, the country ranked 12th for its availability of skills and competencies, a fall of two places on 2017.
The availability of financial skills was especially noted, with Ireland ranking 7th in respect of this.
Topping the list was Switzerland. It ranked fourth in investment and development, and first in both the appeal and readiness factors.
In a top 10 dominated by Western European countries Canada, in 6th, was the only non-European country, rising from 11th place, lifted by an improvement in the quality of its talent pool.
The US also moved up compared to last year showing advancements in all three talent factors.
"Cultivating a skilled and educated workforce is crucial to strengthening competitiveness and achieving long-term prosperity," Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, said.
Mr Bris said this was particularly important "in the current landscape where AI and other new technologies constantly redefine the challenges that governments, businesses and society will face in the future".