UK drops in global rankings for data and technology skills according to new data

The UK lags behind in global and European rankings for data and technology skills, according to Coursera’s latest Global Skills Report (GSR). The UK placed #34 globally in data skills and #47 in technology skills, lagging behind much of Western Europe and placing lower overall compared to last year’s report.

GSR draws on performance data since the pandemic’s onset from more than 77 million learners on the platform to benchmark skills proficiency across business, technology, and data science for over 100 countries. For the first time, the Global Skills Report also reveals the top skills needed for high-demand entry-level jobs, including the learning hours required to develop them.

Despite the global drop in rankings, it’s promising to see the UK government taking action. Most recently, the government’s partnership with Google will provide UK jobseekers with scholarships for Google Career Certificates on Coursera.

A few more promising UK highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Despite relatively low global rankings, the UK still appears competitive in data science and technology skills: In the field of data science, the UK has a 69% skills proficiency. In the field of technology, the UK has a 57% skills proficiency.
  • Traditional skills such as math, and probability and statistics rank highest across tech and data science: The UK has a 79% skills proficiency for mathematics and 75% skills proficiency for probability and statistics.
  • The UK performs well in machine learning and theoretical computer science: The UK has a 72% skills proficiency in machine learning and 71% skills proficiency in theoretical computer science. The Machine Learning course offered by Stanford University was also the second most popular course among UK learners.
  • Female STEM learning increased as digital transformation rose in importance: The share of female enrollment in STEM courses increased from 34% in 2018-19 to 42% in 2020. The percentage of UK female learners on the platform is 49%.

“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, Vice President EMEA, 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”.

Other interesting report insights on skills and time required to prepare for entry-level roles:

  • 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).
  • 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. Similarly, entry-level marketing roles require data analysis software and digital marketing skills in addition to soft skills like strategy, creativity, and communication.
  • The most transferable skills across all future jobs are in human skills like problem solving and communication, computer literacy, and career management. Foundational skills like business communication and digital literacy enable workers to participate in increasingly tech-heavy and global work environments. As people change jobs more frequently, job search and career planning skills will be critical to role transitions and sustaining employment.

With 77 million learners, 6,000 institutions, and more than 5,000 courses from the world’s leading universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends. This year’s report is further enriched by the pandemic-driven trends, including 30 million new learners who joined the platform in 2020.

To download the full report, visit