Learners show growing emphasis on human skills like decision-making and planning amid economic volatility
The acceleration of digital transformation, inflation, and global instability are driving increased demand for digital and human skills needed to thrive in the new economy, according to Coursera’s latest Global Skills Report. The report shows U.S. proficiency in technology and data science skills are declining and lag behind countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. However, U.S. learners showed higher proficiency in essential business skills including marketing, leadership and management, and strategy and operations.
“The Great Resignation and automation are mandating stronger investments in human capital, as institutions must prioritize developing the high-demand digital and human skills required to build a competitive and equitable workforce,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “Our data shows these skills are not equally distributed, and students and low-wage workers need access to flexible, affordable, and fast-tracked pathways to entry-level digital jobs that offer a foundation for a stronger and more inclusive economy.”
The Global Skills Report draws data from 100 million learners in more than 100 countries who have used Coursera to develop a new skill during the past year. The report benchmarks three of the most in-demand skill areas driving employment in the digital economy – business, technology, and data science. For the first time, this year’s report also highlights changes in ranking for each country, and state-specific data for the U.S. and India, where regional variations are notable.
Key U.S. insights from the report include:
- The U.S. remained flat in overall skills proficiency at 29th, trailing countries in Asia & Europe. Business skills proficiency rose in the U.S., with key areas like leadership and management increasing from 40% in 2021 to 67% in 2022. However, technology skills proficiency overall dropped significantly from 69% in 2021 to 43% this year. Proficiency in data science also fell sharply from 73% last year to 54% in 2022.
- U.S. learners in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and along the Pacific Coast had the highest skills proficiency in business, while those in the South lagged behind. Three midwestern states including Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana ranked highest in business proficiency throughout the U.S.
- Idaho showed the highest levels of technology skills in the country, outpacing tech hubs like California and Massachusetts. Learners in the state also earned a perfect 100% proficiency for mobile development skills. This reflects a growth trend driven by the number of high-tech companies in the state increasing 61% in the last decade.
- Learners in the U.S. increased focus on human skills amid rapid workforce changes. Workforce disruption caused by the pandemic and the pace of automation is forcing businesses to quickly adapt. Human skills like resilience, project management, decision making, planning, storytelling, and experiments were increasingly popular among U.S. business learners, as organizations worked to navigate change.
- The U.S. achieves greater gender parity in overall course enrollments but women still lag behind men in STEM. The online course enrollment rate for women reached its highest point (51%) in the last year, continuing a trend that started in 2020. Despite a rise in STEM enrollments from 35% in 2019 to 42% in 2022, women still trail men in the U.S.
- The U.S. remains behind the curve in math skills. Proficiency in mathematics among U.S. learners dropped sharply from 56% in 2021 to 40% in 2022. This lags countries throughout Europe including Germany at 81% and the U.K. at 78% proficiency. Maine, Washington, and New Hampshire had the highest levels of math proficiency in the U.S., while Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee finished in the bottom three.
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Global trends in the report include:
- Entry-level or “gateway” certificate course enrollments among women reached 40% in 2021, up significantly from 25% in 2019. Certificates, such as Google IT Support and Google Data Analytics, provide a clear pathway to gain skills needed for high-demand, entry-level digital jobs. These courses require approximately 240 total learning hours, which can be completed in just six months at 10 hours per week.
- There is a strong correlation between skills proficiency, GDP, and broadband access. Wealthier countries scored higher in overall skills proficiency, matched by those with high levels of internet access.
- Developed countries saw more learners acquiring human skills including change management and resilience. Learners in developing countries were more focused on digital skills through courses like supply chain systems and mobile architecture.
- The most popular business and technology skills globally in the last year were leadership and management, probability and statistics, and theoretical computer science. For the second year in a row, Switzerland had the highest-skilled learners followed by Denmark, Indonesia, and Belgium.
- Learners also focused on courses that develop the skills needed to understand the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrollment in courses that cover epidemiology and risk management is now four times higher than it was prior to the pandemic.
With over 100 million learners, 7,000+ institutions, and more than 5,000 courses from 250 of the world’s leading universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends. In the Global Skills Report, over 100 countries are ranked against one another, with percentile rankings attributed to each skill proficiency. A country that shows 100% skills proficiency ranks at the top of the 100+ countries, and a country at 0% is at the bottom.