UK Slips In Global Skills Rankings

The United Kingdom has slipped down in the global rankings for technology and data skills proficiency.

That is according to the Global Skills Report, compiled by the world’s largest online learning provider, Coursera.

The report drew on performance data from more than 77 million learners, 4,000 campuses, 2,000 businesses and 100 governments since the pandemic’s onset to benchmark skills proficiency across business, technology, and data science for over 100 countries.

New Challenges, New Skills

Tech skills

And the news was somewhat mixed for the UK, with the country placed 34th in data skills and 47th in technology skills.

This puts it behind much of Western Europe and shows that the UK has been placed lower in the global ranking compared to similar findings from a year ago.

But it is not all doom and gloom.

Despite relatively low global rankings, the UK still appears competitive in data science and technology skills.

Indeed, in the field of data science the UK has a 69 percent skills proficiency overall. In the field of technology, the UK has a 57 percent skills proficiency overall.

What will the tech sector in the UK look like after the Covid-19 crisis passes? Silicon UK spoke with experts in their fields to gain their insights.

The Global Skills Report from Coursera also found that traditional skills such as maths and probability and statistics rank highest across tech and data science. Here the UK has a 79 percent skills proficiency for mathematics and 71 percent skills proficiency for probability and statistics.

And there was also good news as the report found that the UK performs well in machine learning. Indeed, the UK has a 72 percent skills proficiency in Machine Learning.

Another UK finding was that female STEM learning increased as digital transformation rose in importance. The report found that the share of female enrolment in STEM courses increased from 34 percent in 2018-19 to 41 percent in 2020. The percentage of UK female learners on the platform is 49 percent.

Improvement needed

But the UK does have some areas to improve upon.

The report found the UK is lagging behind in important business skills to adequately evolve and develop remote and hybrid working.

HR and Communications skills ranked only at 13 percent and 21 percent skills proficiency, respectively – far lower than other European countries.

“As shown in our report findings, 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 Anthony Tattersall, VP EMEA at Coursera.

“It’s great to see the UK government taking early action by joining forces with Google to offer scholarships for digital upskilling on Coursera,” Tattersall added.

Time required for new new skills

The Global Skills Report from Coursera also provided some useful insight into the skills and time required to prepare for entry-level roles.

For example, it found that 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).

The report also found that 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.

The report also found that the most transferable skills across all future jobs are in human skills such as problem solving and communication, computer literacy, and career management.

“Foundational skills such as business communication and digital literacy enable workers to participate in increasingly tech-heavy and global work environments,” said Coursera. “As people change jobs more frequently, job search and career planning skills will be critical to role transitions and sustaining employment.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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