Coursera has published a new Global Skills Report that found that the UK has come down to the 64th rank in terms of skills development. This Skills Report has been put together by studying data on 100 countries that are on Coursera’s registered learner base.
Some of the key findings in this report are that online learning has made it more possible to get access to better opportunities and that thanks to online learning, many countries are able to close the gender gap.
This research includes about three million learners in the UK and through their study, they found that the UK is most likely to invest in skills such as adaptability, risk management and AI. The report also states that the UK scored well in business skills such as HR and marketing.
There is Room for Improvement
While the UK has scored well with some skills, the report states that there is still room for improvement. Learners in the UK are competitively proficient in skills like computer science and web development but are lacking skills in engineering with only 23% of proficient learners.
Beyond educational skills, in order to have a resilient workforce, it is crucial for workers to develop not just education-related skills but also digital and human skills. Interestingly, another key finding in this report is that learners with postgraduate degrees are likely to invest in AI-related skills. But, there is a catch here.
In the UK, around 75% of workers do not feel they are ready to operate in the digital world despite using digital skills like digital project management, technology collaboration and digital admin every day. This just goes to show the lack of digital confidence UK workers have and how they need help to navigate through it.
Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO of Salesforce UKI, says that while coding and app development are highly sought-after skills, not everyone needs to learn them. The idea is “showing people where exactly, and often how easily, they can fit into the digital-first workplace.”
The UK Needs to Invest in Soft Skills
In addition to playing catch up with digital skills, the UK also needs to develop soft skills in the workplace such as communication, problem-solving and team building. According to a report by Skills Builder Partnerships, the UK is losing 22 billion by ignoring soft skill development. This is despite workers feeling that soft skills are important for their jobs.
There is limited importance given to soft skill development as academic and technical skills are placed at the forefront right from school. However, the UK government is starting to recognise the need to upskill in not just job-related skills but also soft skills and is offering advice on free courses, online and otherwise. Additionally, the UK government suggests taking up voluntary work to further develop those soft skills.