Coursera’s 2022 Global Skills Report finds declining tech and data science skills in the US

Learners are increasingly emphasizing soft skills such as decision-making and planning in a context of economic volatility

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 14, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Accelerating digital transformation, inflation and global instability are driving increased demand for the digital and people skills needed to thrive in the new economy, according to the latest Global Skills Report from Will race. The report shows that America’s technology and data science skills are on the decline and lagging behind countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. However, American learners showed better mastery of essential business skills, including marketing, leadership and management, and strategy and operations.

“The great quit and automation require greater investments in human capital, as institutions must prioritize the development of the high-demand digital and people skills needed to build a competitive and equitable workforce,” said said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “Our data shows that these skills are not evenly distributed, and that students and low-wage workers need access to flexible, affordable, and accelerated pathways to entry-level digital jobs that provide a foundation for an economy stronger and more inclusive.”

The Global Skills Report brings together data from 100 million learners in over 100 countries who have used Coursera to develop a new skill in the past year. The report compares 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 ranking changes for each country, as well as specific data for the United States and India, where regional variations are notable.

Key U.S. information in the report includes:

  • The United States remained stable in terms of overall skills at 29th, behind countries in Asia and Europe. Proficiency in business skills has increased in the United States, with key areas like leadership and management rising from 40% in 2021 to 67% in 2022. However, proficiency in technology skills overall fell by 69% in 2021 to 43% this year. Proficiency in data science has also dropped sharply, from 73% last year to 54% in 2022.

  • American learners in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and along the Pacific Rim had the highest business skills, while those in the South lagged behind. Three Midwestern states, including Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, ranked first in business skills in the United States

  • Idaho showed the highest levels of tech skills in the nation, surpassing tech hubs like California and Massachusetts. Learners in the state also achieved 100% proficiency in mobile development skills. This reflects a growth trend driven by the number of high-tech companies in the state which has increased 61% over the past decade.

  • Learners in the United States are focusing more on soft skills in a rapidly changing workforce. The workforce disruptions caused by the pandemic and the pace of automation are forcing businesses to adapt quickly. People skills such as resilience, project management, decision making, planning, storytelling, and experiences were increasingly popular among corporate learners in the United States as organizations strived to cope with change.

  • The United States is achieving greater gender parity in overall course enrollment, but women still lag behind men in STEM. Women’s enrollment in online courses hit its highest point (51%) in the past year, continuing a trend that began in 2020. Despite a 35% increase in STEM enrollment in 2019 to 42 % in 2022, women are still in the United States

  • The United States remains behind the math skills curve. Math proficiency among US learners has fallen sharply, from 56% in 2021 to 40% in 2022. This trails European countries, including Germany at 81% and the UK at 78%. Maine, Washington, and New Hampshire had the highest levels of math proficiency in the United States, while Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee ranked in the bottom three.

Global trends in the report include:

  • Enrollment in entry certificate or “gateway” courses for women reached 40% in 2021, up significantly from 25% in 2019. Certificates, such as Google IT Support and Google Data Analytics, provide a clear path to gaining the skills needed for high-demand, entry-level digital jobs. These courses require approximately 240 hours of learning in total, which can be completed in just six months at 10 hours per week.

  • There is a strong correlation between proficiency in skills, GDP and access to broadband. Wealthier countries scored higher on overall skill proficiency, as did those with high internet access.

  • Developed countries have seen more learners acquire soft skills, including change management and resilience. Learners from developing countries focused more on digital skills through courses such as supply chain systems and mobile architecture.

  • The most popular business and technology skills around the world over the past year were leadership and management, probability and statistics, and theoretical computer science. For the second consecutive year, Switzerland had the most qualified learners, followed by Denmark, Indonesia and Belgium.

  • Learners have also focused on courses that develop the skills needed to understand the COVID-19 pandemic. Course enrollment in epidemiology and risk management is now four times higher than before the pandemic.

With over 100 million learners, over 7,000 institutions, and over 5,000 courses from 250 of the world’s leading universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets to identify and measure skills trends. In the Global Skills Report, more than 100 countries are ranked against each other, with percentile rankings assigned to each skill. A country with 100% skill proficiency ranks at the top of the 100+ countries, and a country with 0% is at the bottom.

To download the full report and explore insights unique to a country or region, go here.

About Coursera

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford computer science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with 102 million registered learners as of March 31, 2022. Coursera partners with over 250 leading academic and industry partners to deliver a broad catalog of content and references, including courses, specializations, professional certificates, guided projects and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Institutions around the world use Coursera to upskill and retrain their employees, citizens, and students in fields such as data science, technology, and business. Coursera became a B Corp in February 2021.

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