Coursera Reveals the Skills That Improve Students’ Employability – Observatory of Educational Innovation

Their new report explores trends in nine countries, student competencies needed for five emerging positions, and ten academic disciplines to develop them.

Photo: ThisIsEngineering

Coursera, the massive open online course provider, released its new report, Campus Skills Report 2022, seeking to close the skills gap by identifying those required in emerging jobs. For the 3.8 million students registered on the platform and 3,700 campus customers, the research determined the steps that higher education institutions worldwide must take to develop skills in students and improve their employability.

Although some educational institutions struggle to keep their curricula up to date, especially data management and technology, the pandemic accelerated the global adoption of technology. According to the report, 85 million jobs will disappear by 2025, while 97 million new ones will be created. Future jobs will focus on uniquely human skills, including cognitive (such as decision-making and creativity) and social and emotional skills (such as collaboration and project management). However, technological skills will continue to be tremendously demanded.

Coursera assures that higher education is more relevant than ever, and improving student employability must be a priority. While jobs today are organized by skills, institutions are arranged by academic disciplines. One of the main reasons for youth unemployment is the disconnect between what students learn and what employers seek. Therefore, an approach that prioritizes skills in the curricula and adapts them to the needs of the labor market is essential.

Global Skills

The report identifies the five emerging jobs most attractive to the students: data scientist, data analyst, software engineer, machine-learning engineer, and marketing specialist.

However, are students prepared with the necessary skills to enter any of these jobs? The analysis reveals the following:

  • Students who take the scientist or data analyst paths should improve their data visualization skills, math, probability, and statistics.

  • Students studying software engineering exhibit a gap between those who do and do not have the vital competencies for demanded positions. Those deficient or lacking in these skills require more courses in programming languages, data structures and operating systems, and practical coding projects.

  • Machine-learning engineering students must focus on probability and statistics to improve their computer programming to obtain the available positions. 

  • Students who wish to become marketing specialists must have experience in communication and data analysis software for current jobs that combine storytelling and data management.

Trends by Country

In another section of the report, Coursera analyzed students’ competency and course preferences in nine countries through a study of macroeconomic and environmental factors. The analysis showed that students are attracted to technology and data skills, which will help them enter the world of digitalized industries and startups.

For example, in India, students seek digital skills in C programming and cloud computing to prepare for jobs in their country’s expanding digital economy. In Turkey, Coursera users prefer human skills and characteristics like critical thinking and resilience because industry leaders see them as central to its service-driven economy.

Meanwhile, in Colombia, students acquire programming, software, and data analysis competencies as its economy focus its efforts on technological support. Coursera members in Mexico are attracted to business skills, such as organizational development, human resource development, and negotiation, applying them in internships and practical projects relevant to their employment.

For Egyptian students, software architecture, software testing, and software engineering prepare them to create their own companies. Saudi Arabian preferences combine human abilities, such as writing and emotional intelligence, with entrepreneurial skills, such as negotiation and strategy, to leverage opportunities in the private sector.

Different Paths

The research report describes 10 academic disciplines that allow mapping the skills learned on Coursera to the jobs in which the users show interest. These categories provide insights to higher education leaders on which positions to recommend to students to align their preferences and develop competencies for a successful transition. The skills can be classified as fundamental, multidisciplinary, or emerging.

Some of the research findings regarding these disciplines are:

  • In all subjects, students pursue technological skills, such as computer programming and statistics, for stability in the technology sector.

  • Engineering students, particularly, appreciate the growing need for human skills that complement practical success techniques in the workplace.

  • Arts and humanities students who intend to become teachers prioritize communication, research, and writing.

  • Individuals enrolled in the biological sciences programs develop data analysis and data management skills to strengthen their research abilities.

  • Business students concentrate on mobilizing data with computer programming and machine learning to achieve business goals.

  • Students double down on computer programming and cloud computing skills in computer science.

  • Some users in education training want jobs outside of teaching as data scientists and entrepreneurs; they acquire statistical programming and machine learning skills.

  • “Data scientist” is a preferred job for health sciences students; they study data analysis, data management, and general statistics.

The platform provides this report motivated by the notion that online learning presents higher education with great opportunities to incorporate these skills and courses into its programs. Coursera believes that including these competencies and aligning them to today’s labor markets will allow students to create versatile portfolios with expanded interests and job preparation.

Translation by Daniel Wetta

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