January 29, 2022

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Coursera Industry Skills Report highlights critical skills gaps as digital transformation investments accelerate across all major industries

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By Leah Belsky, Coursera Chief Enterprise Officer

I am excited to introduce Coursera’s Industry Skills Report 2021, which examines the pandemic’s impact on digital transformation and skills development across major industries. The report analyzes data on skills proficiency from millions of Coursera learners across 10 different industries between June 2020 and May 2021.

The pandemic has accelerated the rate of digitization on a global scale and dramatically changed the way businesses operate. Recent data shows that two years worth of digital transformation were concentrated between May-June 2020 alone. The Industry Skills Report helps companies assess skills gaps within their workforce and understand the critical skills needed to succeed in the new economy. 

Understanding the industry skills data

In the report, we highlight skills proficiency within each industry. This is calculated by grading all relevant skill assessments completed by learners in a specific industry. We then use machine learning models to estimate how proficient a learner is in a given skill. By taking the average of these individual scores, we are able to determine the industry proficiency level for each skill in the report.

The proficiency levels are represented as percentiles, which are grouped into the following four categories:

  • Cutting-edge: 76th percentile or above
  • Competitive: 51st–75th percentile
  • Emerging: 26th–50th percentile
  • Lagging: 25th percentile or below

Among the major trends that the Industry Skills Report identified include: 

Automotive companies show growth across multiple skills but lack proficiency in critical technologies. Digital transformation creates new skill imperatives as autonomous vehicles, high-efficiency electric car batteries, and connected cars become a priority. To stay competitive, automotive companies have developed cutting-edge technology and data skills such as machine learning (100th percentile), mobile development (100th percentile), and computer programming (78th percentile). However, to build business agility and keep pace with rapid change, automotive companies must strengthen development in several critical skills, including cloud computing (11th percentile), security engineering (44th percentile), and data visualization (22nd percentile).

Manufacturing shows improved proficiency across business, technology, and data skills as it increases the adoption of smart manufacturing, smart factory, and robotics technologies. Companies in the industry have demonstrated cutting-edge skills in strategy and operations (100th percentile), software engineering (100th percentile), and data visualization (78th percentile). Despite improvements, the skills gap and labor shortage in the industry remains a concern. To ensure employees have the skills needed to fill critical roles and improve internal mobility, companies must strengthen proficiency in areas like cloud computing (44th percentile), probability and statistics (44th percentile), and statistical programming (33rd percentile).

Financial Services doubling down on technology and data skills as it navigates disruption caused by changing user behavior and platform shifts. As more financial services companies implement cloud computing, cybersecurity, AI, and machine learning technologies, there are rising concerns about the skills gap posing execution risks. The industry is prioritizing development in critical technology and data science skills, including data management (100th percentile), security engineering (89th percentile), and mobile development (89th percentile). The ability to quickly adjust business strategy to create competitive advantages will require improvement in essential skills such as strategy and operations (44th percentile) and leadership and management (44th percentile).  

Professional Services companies must implement digital and virtual processes to supplement human interactions. Professional services is a relationship-driven industry that has relied heavily on in-person interactions. The pandemic and remote work environment are forcing these organizations to use technology in new ways to help build and maintain relationships with clients. Organizations have developed cutting-edge business skills in communication (100th percentile), leadership and management (89th percentile), and marketing (89th percentile). To drive continued growth, companies must implement digital best practices and improve automation by strengthening technical and data skills in mobile development (33rd percentile) and data management (11th percentile). 

Technology companies work to address the short shelf-life of skills with continuous development opportunities. The rapid pace of innovation and the decreasing shelf-life of technology skills will require companies to accelerate development efforts. As expected, the industry has many cutting-edge technology and data skills, including cloud computing (100th percentile), software engineering (89th percentile), and data management (78th percentile). However, to effectively deliver on strategic initiatives, technology companies must also improve critical business skills in low-performing areas such as human resources (22nd percentile), finance (11th percentile), and marketing (11th percentile). 

Telecommunications industry must increase technology and data skills to maximize growth opportunities around 5G Networks. The global telecom services market is expected to be valued at $2.5 trillion by 2028, and continued investments in deploying 5G wireless networks are a crucial growth driver. To deliver on this opportunity, telecom companies have developed cutting-edge technology skills in computer networking (100 percentile), security engineering (100 percentile), and cloud computing (78 percentile). The shift towards 5G networks will have massive data implications. To fully harness the power of their data and maintain a competitive advantage, telcos must significantly improve skills in data analysis (11th percentile), data visualization (11th percentile), and machine learning (33rd percentile). 

Despite the recent downturn, investing in job-based skills development remains a priority for many businesses. We are honored to work with industry leading organizations across the world to provide them with the high-demand skills needed to fill critical roles, deliver stronger business outcomes, and thrive in the digital economy. 

With over 87 million learners and 6,000 institutions subscribing to thousands of courses on the platform,  Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends. This report includes data from 40 million new learners who registered during the pandemic between Jan 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

To download the Industry Skills Report 2021 and explore the sector findings, click here.

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