Announcing the Coursera 2020 Global Skills Index

Announcing the Coursera 2020 Global Skills Index

By Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO, Coursera

In a few short months, COVID-19 has profoundly reshaped our world. The economic devastation has been staggering, affecting the lives of more than 555 million workers and 200 million higher education students. As we begin to revive jobs and economies, it will be important to understand the impact of the crisis on the skills landscape. 

Today, I’m honored to introduce the 2020 Global Skills Index (GSI), an in-depth look at the state of skills around the world. This report is made possible by 65 million global learners that use the Coursera platform to gain new skills, including 15 million new learners who joined the platform since March. Drawing on rich performance data, the report benchmarks skills proficiency for 60 countries, 10 industries, and 11 fields of study in business, data science, and technology.

GSI provides an early analysis of the pandemic’s impact on the skills landscape, making clear that recovery in a post-pandemic world will rely on broad reskilling. The findings show that higher skills proficiency is linked to economic progress across multiple dimensions, including GDP, labor force participation, and income equality. 

Equipped with these insights, institutions must lead reskilling efforts by working together to provide people with equal access to job-relevant skills. I hope this report inspires institutions to prioritize skills development as the foundation of economic revival.

These are some of the key insights from data in the report: 

  • Countries, both developed and developing, excelling in critical business, technology, and data science skills see more income equality. There is a negative correlation between a country’s average skill proficiency across domains and the share of income held by the top 10 percent in a country. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Countries with higher skill proficiencies are also those with higher labor force participation rates. A country’s skill proficiency across domains is positively correlated (56%) with the fraction of its working-age population active in its labor force. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Countries with more equal access to the internet are also those with higher skill proficiencies. There is a significant, positive correlation (65%) between a country’s skill proficiency across domains and the percentage of its population using the internet. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Every skill proficiency percent gained for a country is associated with a $600 increase in GDP per capita. (Secondary data: World Bank
  • Industries with more highly skilled talent, especially in technology skills, see higher stock returns and less disruption from COVID-19. The correlation between an industry’s skill proficiency and its one-year U.S. stock return is 43% across all skill domains and 39% with the technology domain. (Secondary data: Fidelity)
  • Of the 200 million higher education students whose studies have been disrupted by COVID-19, 80% are located in countries with emerging or lagging skills. Eighty percent of students enrolled in tertiary education are located in countries that have both closed schools due to COVID-19 and are in the bottom half of the world rankings for proficiency in business, technology, and data science skills. (Secondary data: UNESCO)
  • Institutions navigating COVID-19 continue to prioritize business, technology, and data science skills. Over two-thirds of the enrollments by governments, companies, and campuses on the Coursera platform are in courses teaching business, technology, and data science skills. The share of enrollments shifted marginally by an average of 6% before and after the pandemic hit.
  • The top five trending skills related to COVID-19 are public health, recognizing symptoms, understanding risk factors, social distancing, and contact tracing. Since March, there have been more than 800,000 enrollments and a 540% enrollment increase in Coursera courses teaching these skills. This is in part attributed to viral demand for Johns Hopkins University’s free COVID-19 Contact Tracing course, which is the most popular new course of the year on the Coursera platform. 
  • Demand for personal development skills like confidence, stress management, and mindfulness has grown by 1,200% among individual learners. Individuals are turning to courses like Yale University’s Science of Well-Being to mitigate mental and emotional distress caused by the pandemic.

Download the full report.