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Sunday, 19 June 2022 22:57

Australia is ‘forging pathways’ for business and technology skills in the digital economy: Coursera report Featured

By Staff Writer
Sue Turk,, Managing Director Enterprise, Australia and New Zealand, Coursera Sue Turk,, Managing Director Enterprise, Australia and New Zealand, Coursera

Australians are closing the skills shortage gaps and adapting to the new digital era, according to the fourth annual Global Skills Report released by online learning platform Coursera which also shows that out of 100 countries, Australia’s global ranking has improved since last year, jumping from 40th to 39th in technology skills.

The report reveals that Australia boasts a competitive global proficiency level of 63% in technology, leapfrogging over countries including China (25%), the U.S (43%), the United Kingdom (60%) and New Zealand (39%).

Coursera has today released its fourth annual Global Skills Report, based on first-party data from 1.1 million Australian learners registered on the platform. The report highlights how Australians are closing the skills shortage gaps and adapting to the new digital era.

Out of 100 countries, the report shows Australia’s global ranking has improved since last year, jumping from 40th to 39th in technology skills. Australia boasts a competitive global proficiency level of 63% in technology, leapfrogging over countries including China (25%), the U.S (43%), the United Kingdom (60%) and New Zealand (39%).

In particular, Australia has been ranked as having ‘cutting-edge’ proficiency in cloud computing (81%), web development (90%), data visualisation (75%) and data analysis (84%).

According to Coursera’s report, the acceleration of digital transformation, inflation, and global instability are driving increased demand for digital and human skills needed to thrive in the new economy,

“The Great Resignation and automation are mandating stronger investments in human capital, as institutions must prioritise developing the high-demand digital and human skills required to build a competitive and equitable workforce,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO.

“Our data shows these skills are not equally distributed, and students and low-wage workers need access to flexible, affordable, and fast-tracked pathways to entry-level digital jobs that offer a foundation for a stronger and more inclusive economy.”

The Global Skills Report draws data from 100 million learners in more than 100 countries who have used Coursera to develop a new skill in the last 12 months (Q2 2021 - Q2 2022) - and the report benchmarks three of the most in-demand skill areas driving employment in the digital economy - business, technology, and data science.

"The widening skills gap is forcing businesses to prioritise upskilling, and helping their workforce improve proficiency in essential technology and digital skills, as Australia adapts to the new economy. This year’s report demonstrates that Australian learners are embracing change and learning new skills to stay relevant, while helping to accelerate economic recovery and growth in a post-pandemic world,” said Sue Turk, Managing Director Enterprise, Australia and New Zealand, Coursera.

Coursera lists key Australian insights from the report including:

  • Australia rose eight ranks in skills proficiency year-on-year. Buoyed by a rise in its business skills proficiency level, which rose from 31st percentile to 58th percentile, Australia climbed eight ranks between last year and the present.
  • Australia is focusing on digital skills — and has the skills proficiencies to back it up. The Australian government is focusing on improving digital skills, spending more than $100 million on training its workforce in this critical area. Australia is building on a strong foundation, with its workers scoring 70th percentile in data science and 63rd percentile in technology. Australia has overtaken many countries in technology skills proficiency including China (25th percentile), the U.S. (43rd percentile), the United Kingdom (60th percentile) and New Zealand (39th percentile).
  • Alongside the rapid rate of digital transformation, Australia’s data science skills remain in the top third of global rankings. Despite dropping four spots globally since last year’s report, Australia maintains a competitive global position in data science, ranking 31st with 71st percentile learner proficiency. This puts Australia ahead of countries including China (58th percentile), the U.S. (54th percentile) and New Zealand (65th percentile).
  • Learners in Australia increased focus on human skills amid rapid workforce changes. Workforce disruption caused by the pandemic and the pace of automation is forcing businesses to quickly adapt. Human skills like resilience, adaptability, and critical thinking were increasingly popular among Australian business learners, as organisations worked to navigate change.

Global trends in the report include:

  • Entry-level or “gateway” certificate course enrollments among women reached 40% in 2021, up significantly from 25% in 2019. Certificates, such as Google IT Support and Google Data Analytics, provide a clear pathway to gain skills needed for high-demand, entry-level digital jobs. These courses require approximately 240 total learning hours, which can be completed in just six months at 10 hours per week.
  • There is a strong correlation between skills proficiency, GDP, and broadband access. Wealthier countries scored higher in overall skills proficiency, matched by those with high levels of internet access.
  • Developed countries saw more learners acquiring human skills including change management and resilience. Learners in developing countries were more focused on digital skills through courses like supply chain systems and mobile architecture.
  • The most popular business and technology skills globally in the last year were leadership and management, probability and statistics, and theoretical computer science. For the second year in a row, Switzerland had the highest-skilled learners followed by Denmark, Indonesia, and Belgium.
  • Learners also focused on courses that develop the skills needed to understand the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrollment in courses that cover epidemiology and risk management is now four times higher than it was prior to the pandemic.
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