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UK lacks core business skills vital for next phase of hybrid work, reveals Coursera’s 2021 Global Skills Report

The UK’s 29% overall skills proficiency in business skills represents lowest performing country in Europe

London, UK – The UK is lagging behind in important business skills to adequately evolve and develop remote and hybrid workingaccording to Coursera’s latest Global Skills Report. HR and Communications skills ranked only at 13% and 21% skills proficiency, respectively – far lower than other European countries. 

The study draws on performance data since the pandemic’s onset from more than 77 million learners on the platform to benchmark skills proficiency across business, technology, and data science for over 100 countries. For the first time, the Global Skills Report also reveals the top skills needed for high-demand entry-level jobs, including the learning hours required to develop them.

The UK emerges as the lowest performing country in Europe for business skills, at 29% overall proficiency. This places the UK at #77 in Coursera’s global rankings of over 100 countries, including countries in North America, Latin America, EMEA and APAC.

Other notable UK skills insights in business from the report include:

  • The UK is most proficient in Finance: Out of all domains (business, technology and data science), the UK’s skills proficiency is highest in finance at 85% skills proficiency.
  • The UK is lagging in leadership and management skills and strategy and operations skills: The UK has only a 33% skills proficiency in leadership and management skills, and 21% skills proficiency in strategy and operations skills. 
  • Despite relatively low global rankings, the UK still appears competitive in data science and technology skills: In the field of data science the UK has a 69% skills proficiency overall. In the field of technology, the UK has a 57% skills proficiency overall. 
  • The UK performs well in machine learning: The UK has a 72% skills proficiency in Machine Learning. The Machine Learning course by Coursera’s cofounder Andrew Ng was also the second most popular course among UK learners.
  • Female STEM learning increased as digital transformation rose in importance: The share of female enrolment in STEM courses increased from 34% in 2018-19 to 41% in 2020. The percentage of UK female learners on the platform is 49%. 

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 “Access to a variety of job-relevant credentials, including a path to entry-level digital jobs, will be key to reskilling at scale and accelerating economic recovery in the UK and beyond,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “This report helps governments and employers assess skill gaps in their workforce, identify roles that can be filled with diverse, non-traditional candidates, and details the specific skills that are needed for these roles.”

 Other key report findings on the skills and time required to prepare for entry-level roles: 

  • Recent graduates and mid-career changers can develop entry-level, digital job skills in as little as 35 to 70 hours (or 1-2 months with 10 learning hours per week). On the other hand, someone with no degree or technology experience can be job-ready in 80 to 240 hours (or 2-6 months with 10 learning hours per week).
  • Learners must invest in both soft and technical skills to stay job-relevant in a rapidly evolving labor market. For example, an entry-level cloud computing role like a Computer Support Specialist requires learning both soft skills like problem solving and organisational development, and technical skills such as security engineering and computer networking. Similarly, entry-level marketing roles require data analysis software and digital marketing skills in addition to soft skills like strategy, creativity, and communication. 
  • The most transferable skills across all future jobs are in human skills like problem solving and communication, computer literacy, and career management. Foundational skills like business communication and digital literacy enable workers to participate in increasingly tech-heavy and global work environments. As people change jobs more frequently, job search and career planning skills will be critical to role transitions and sustaining employment. 

With 77 million learners, 6,000 institutions, and more than 5,000 courses from the world’s leading universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends. This year’s report is further enriched by the pandemic-driven trends, including 30 million new learners who joined the platform in 2020. 


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