Press release

Coursera 2020 Global Skills Index Highlights Urgent Need for Reskilling

Sponsored by Businesswire

Higher skills proficiency is linked to GDP growth, labor force participation, and income equality, according to Coursera’s latest Global Skills Index. The report released today by the world’s leading online learning platform provides an in-depth look at the state of skills around the world. Looking across the 65 million learners on the platform, and drawing on rich performance data of learners in the past 12 months, the report benchmarks skills proficiency for 60 countries, 10 industries, and 11 fields of study in business, technology, and data science. The report also provides an early analysis of the pandemic’s impact on the skills landscape.

The pandemic has impacted the lives of more than 555 million workers and 200 million higher education students around the world. To revive jobs and economies, institutions must enable widespread access to skills development so that people can swiftly enter and return to the workforce. This requires understanding the state of job-relevant skills for their respective populations, including for their countries, industries, and fields of study. Equipped with insights from the report, leaders across private, public, and education sectors can shape reskilling efforts for economic revival.

“Workforce recovery in a post-pandemic world relies on broad-base reskilling. Institutions must lead this effort by providing people with equal access to skills needed for the jobs of the future,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “This year’s Global Skills Index reveals skills trends and insights that will inspire institutions to coordinate skills development for a more inclusive and advanced workforce.”

Coursera is committed to partnering with governments, businesses, and universities around the world to put this data into action. Through Coursera’s Campus Response Initiative and Workforce Recovery Initiative, there are already nearly 10,000 programs led by universities and governments to deliver free online learning. Together, they have equipped more than 1.3 million people with job-relevant skills.

Key insights from the data in the report include:

  • Countries, both developed and developing, excelling in critical business, technology, and data science skills see more income equality. There is a negative correlation between a country’s average skill proficiency across domains and the share of income held by the top 10% in a country. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Countries with higher skill proficiencies are also those with higher labor force participation rates. A country’s skill proficiency across domains is positively correlated (56%) with the fraction of its working-age population active in its labor force. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Countries with more equal access to the internet are also those with higher skill proficiencies. There is a significant, positive correlation (65%) between a country’s skill proficiency across domains and the percentage of its population using the internet. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Every skill proficiency percent gained for a country is associated with a $600 increase in GDP per capita. (Secondary data: World Bank)
  • Industries with more highly-skilled talent, especially in technology skills, see higher stock returns and less disruption from COVID-19. The correlation between an industry’s skill proficiency and its one-year U.S. stock return is 43% across all skill domains and 39% with the technology domain. (Secondary data: Fidelity)
  • Of the 200 million higher education students whose studies have been disrupted by COVID-19, 80% are located in countries with emerging or lagging skills. Eighty percent of students enrolled in tertiary education are located in countries that have both closed schools due to COVID-19 and are in the bottom half of the world rankings for proficiency in business, technology, and data science skills. (Secondary data: UNESCO)
  • Institutions navigating COVID-19 continue to prioritize business, technology, and data science skills. Over two-thirds of the enrollments by governments, companies, and campuses on the Coursera platform are in courses teaching business, technology, and data science skills. The share of enrollments shifted marginally by an average of 6% before and after the pandemic hit.
  • The top five trending skills related to COVID-19 are public health, recognizing symptoms, understanding risk factors, social distancing, and contact tracing. Since March, there have been more than 800,000 enrollments and a 540% enrollment increase in Coursera courses teaching these skills. This is in part attributed to viral demand for Johns Hopkins University’s free COVID-19 Contact Tracing course, which is the most popular new course of the year on the Coursera platform.
  • Demand for personal development skills like confidence, stress management, and mindfulness has grown by 1,200% among individual learners. Individuals are turning to courses like Yale University’s Science of Well-Being to mitigate mental and emotional distress caused by the pandemic.

With 65 million learners and more than 4,000 courses from the world’s top universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying skill trends. The evolved methodology for GSI 2020 uses a patent-pending algorithm that more comprehensively accounts for selection biases. This year’s report is further enriched by the pandemic-driven trends, including 15 million new learners who joined the platform since March.

To download the full report, visit

About Coursera

Coursera was founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng with a vision of providing life-transforming learning experiences to anyone, anywhere. It is now a leading online learning platform for higher education, where 65 million learners from around the world come to learn skills of the future. More than 200 of the world’s top universities and industry educators partner with Coursera to offer projects, courses, Specializations, certificates, and degree programs. 2,500 companies trust the company’s enterprise platform Coursera for Business to transform their talent. Coursera for Government equips government employees and citizens with in-demand skills to build a competitive workforce. Coursera for Campus empowers any university to offer high-quality, job-relevant online education to students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Coursera is backed by leading investors that include Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, Learn Capital, and SEEK Group.