Introducing the Coursera Global Skills Index

Introducing the Coursera Global Skills Index

By Emily Glassberg Sands, Head of Data Science, Coursera

Today marks the release of the inaugural Coursera Global Skills Index (GSI), an in-depth look at skill trends and performance around the world, made possible by the millions of learners who come to Coursera to learn and grow.

Skills are the foundation of human productivity and economic success. Yet the skills landscape as we know it is under transition. Technology is advancing faster than humans, and the skills that once fueled our economy will no longer suffice. Companies, countries, and individuals are grappling with a serious skills shortage, in addition to uncertainty on which skills they need to succeed in the changing economy.

Urgency around upskilling is a global one, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each country has a unique set of circumstances – economic, political, social – that shape their skills landscape today. Industries, too, face challenges unique to their verticals that require tailored talent strategies. This first edition of the Coursera Global Skills Index looks closely at these trends, benchmarking 60 countries and 10 industries across Business, Technology, and Data Science skills. The findings draw from an innovative data methodology that uses machine learning to map skills to the content that teaches them and then robustly measure skill proficiencies based on the assessment performance of the millions of learners on Coursera.

We are excited to reveal these rich skills insights, but this is just the beginning. Looking ahead, we will continue to partner with governments, businesses, and individuals around the world to put this data into action, and turn the shifting tides of the skills landscape into an opportunity to train, innovate, and compete.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Two-thirds of the world’s population is falling behind in critical skills, including 90% of developing economies. Countries that rank in the lagging or emerging categories (the bottom two quartiles) in at least one domain make up 66% of the world’s population, indicating a critical need to upskill the global workforce. Many countries with developing economies — and with less to invest in education — see larger skill deficiencies, with 90% ranking in the lagging or emerging categories.
  • Europe is the global skills leader. European countries make up over 80% of the cutting-edge category (top quartile globally) across Business, Technology, and Data Science. Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands are consistently cutting-edge in all three domains. This advanced skill level is likely a result of Europe’s heavy institutional investment in education via workforce development and public education initiatives.
  • Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America have high skill inequality. Consistent with the vast economic and cultural diversity that characterizes each region, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America have the greatest within-region skill variance. Asia Pacific is at the extremes of the global Business rankings with New Zealand (#6) and Australia (#9) approaching the very top, while Pakistan (#57) and Bangladesh (#59) land near the bottom. In the Middle East and Africa, Israel is a leader in each of the three domains and #1 in Data Science, while Nigeria lags near the bottom of the rankings across domains, and is last in Data Science. In Latin America, Argentina’s #1 ranking in Technology is in stark contrast to Mexico’s (#43) and Colombia’s (#49) lower proficiencies in the field.
  • The United States must upskill while minding regional differences. Although known as a business leader for innovation, the U.S. hovers around the middle of the global rankings and is not cutting-edge in any of the three domains. Within the U.S., skill proficiency is distributed non-uniformly while the West ranks ahead of other regions in Technology and Data Science, the Midwest shines in Business.

In addition to benchmarking countries, we also evaluated trending skills globally and skill proficiencies across 10 major industry verticals:

  • Demand for Technology and Data Science skills is growing, while demand Business skills is shrinking. Across the board, enrollment numbers highlight fast-growing demand for Technology and Data Science skills from individuals and companies alike. While Technology enrollments increased by 13%, for example, Business enrollments decreased by 11%.
  • Technology industry professionals lack strong business skills. Technology ranks 5th in Business out of the ten industries in our analysis.
  • Manufacturing shows skills resilience in the digital era. Manufacturing ranks #1 in both Business and Technology and demonstrates an aptitude for tackling change successfully.
  • Telecommunications consistently ranks near the top. Telecommunications is the only industry to rank consistently in the top three across Business, Technology, and Data Science (#3 in each).
  • Finance surprises with below-average skills performance. Despite its pursuit of digital transformation, Finance ranks second to last in Business (#9) and Data Science (#9), and hovers near the middle in Technology (#5).

Download the full report.