Bulletins

US Coursera learners are focusing on people skills and dropping tech

Coursera's latest Global Skills Report reveals a drop in tech and data science proficiency among U.S. learners.

Person holding a smartphone

Coursera released its Global Skills Report for 2022.

Photo: Coursera

Coursera released its Global Skills Report on Tuesday, revealing the top skills trends for 2022 and how U.S. learners stack up against learners from around the world. While the U.S. increased its proficiency in more human-focused business skills, proficiency in tech and data science skills dwindled sharply compared with other countries.


The report pulled from Coursera’s more than 100 million global users who took courses on the platform over the past year and specifically looked at proficiency in business, technology and data science. U.S. learners showed higher proficiency in courses like marketing, leadership and management, and strategy and operations.

From 2021 to 2022, proficiency in leadership and management on Coursera increased from 40% to 67%. The sharp increase can be attributed to an increased business focus on mastering more human-focused skills following the disruption caused by the pandemic, according to Coursera. Skills such as resilience, project management, decision-making and storytelling became increasingly popular among U.S. business learners on the platform in the past year.

The most popular human skills related course in the U.S. was The Science of Well-Being, a class focused on helping people learn habits to increase productivity and happiness, Leah Belsky, the chief enterprise officer of Coursera, shared in a comment to Protocol.

“There are a few factors driving this trend including the lingering effects of the pandemic and the constant state of change … This has led many U.S. learners to recognize that it may not be enough to simply have digital skills,” she said. “No matter their jobs, they’ll need human skills to lead and thrive in the new economy.”

While there was a shift toward acquiring more business skills, there was a slump in other areas. The U.S. market fell behind Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East in the tech and data science skills. Tech skills proficiency overall dropped from 69% in 2021 to 43% in 2022, and mastery in data science fell from 73% to 54%. Belsky attributed the slip to a number of factors, including the effect of offshoring more technical roles such as computer programming and the trend in prioritizing more human and business-related skills in the U.S.

One thing the U.S. did achieve was better gender parity on the ed tech site. Overall online enrollment of women in the U.S. reached 51% in the last year. And though more men than women are enrolled in the platform's STEM courses, women's participation in such classes increased from 35% in 2019 to 42% in 2022.

So what do these key U.S. insights suggest about the direction of the tech industry? Belsky said we can expect to see the tech skills landscape continue to shift, even as more focus is put on human-centric skills. There’s still a real gap in the technical skills needed for the future of work in the U.S.

“By the middle of this decade, an estimated 85 million jobs may disappear, while another 97 million new ones will take their place,” said Belsky. Learners across the country will have to develop new technical skills to succeed in the workforce of the future.

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