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World – Two-thirds of population falling behind in critical skills, report finds

31 May 2019

Two-thirds of the world’s population is falling behind in critical skills, including 90% of developing economies, according to a new report from online learning platform Coursera.

The report, Coursera’s Global Skills Index, takes an in-depth look at skill trends and performance around the world.

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. The report suggested that such a large proportion of ill-prepared workers calls for greater investment in learning to ensure they remain competitive in the new economy.

Meanwhile, 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 the three domains.

According to Coursera, this advanced skill level is likely a result of Europe’s heavy institutional investment in education via workforce development and public education initiatives.

However, skill performance within Europe still varies. Countries in Eastern Europe with less economic stability don’t perform as well as Western Europe in the three domains; Turkey, Ukraine, and Greece consistently land in the bottom half globally.

The report also found that Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America showed high skill inequality. In Asia Pacific, New Zealand (#6) and Australia (#9) approaching the very top of the skills index, while Pakistan (#57) and Bangladesh (#59) ranked at the bottom.

Coursera’s report also found that demand for technology and data science skills is growing, while demand for business skills is shrinking. Across the board, enrollment numbers highlight fast-growing demand for technology and data science skills from individuals and companies alike.

Technology enrollments increased 13% since last year, with the biggest increases in Computer Networking (+56%), Databases (+22%), and Security Engineering (+18%). The growth of mobile and smart devices and the spread of the Internet of Things have made connected devices commonplace, creating vast datasets that need to be stored and secured. Business enrollments, by contrast, have fallen 11%, headlined by a 18% drop in both communication and sales.

For the full report, click here.

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