India lags behind global peers in future job skills, report says

CHENNAI: India is lagging behind its global peers when it comes to being prepared for the jobs revolution, despite the country’s inherent favourable demographic dividend.

Silicon Valley-based e-learning firm Coursera’s Global Skills Index (GSI) released on Thursday found India “lagging” across all three future skills assessed- technology, business, and data science.

India is ranked 44th out of the 60 countries in the technology domain, is lower at 50th spot in business skills, and emerged 51st in data science.

Two-thirds of the world’s population is falling behind in critical skills, including 90% of developing economies, the report said.

North America (which includes US and Canada) is a strong performer across all three skill domains.

Canada ranks #10 in business, #14 in data science, and #24 in technology, while the US comes in at 18th, 16th, and 23rd spots respectively.

However, Europe emerges as the most skilled region, with most of the 24 European countries in the index taking top spots across all three domains.

“About one million people enter the workforce in India every month as per labour ministry data, and about half the activities that people are paid to do today (in India and globally) have the potential to be automated. It feels that now can really be the time for India to double up efforts on upskilling in key areas,” Emily Glassberg Sands, head of data science, Coursera, told TOI.

Launched in 2012, Coursera has 39 million registered learners worldwide, and adds half a million learners every month globally.

India is the second largest market for Coursera with 3.9 million learners, and one of the highest course completion rate over 60%.

The GSI says India is relatively strong in technology, which comprises of general computer science skills, computer networking, databases, software engineering, and others.

As for the business domain, India is relatively stronger in sales and marketing, but has catching up to do in management, communication, accounting and finance skills.

As for the buzzing data science space, the report finds Indians to be exceptionally good in mathematics but trailing its peers in applied data science, statistics and machine learning.

The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic, having a mix of countries in the bottom quartile like India, Indonesia, Malaysia and others and also the out performers New Zealand, Australia and Singapore that rank above the global average.

Commenting on how India can achieve its skilling goals, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said it is important for the country to democratise access to education across all levels of population.

“The kind of people coming on to Coursera [from India] and many other online learning sites are often the more educated ones furthering their own education,” he said. Over three-quarters already have a tertiary degree, and join Coursera to advance their careers.

“India is sitting on an untapped goldmine -a demographic dividend in an otherwise aging world. It will be the youngest country by 2020, with an average age of 29 years. By 2030, India will have the largest working-age population globally,” Maggioncalda added.

Along with releasing the GSI, Coursera also announced a scholarship program for Indian learners on Thursday. The company is offering 10,000 scholarships in India at no cost for learners on an application-basis.

Coursera analysed the results of over three million learners who completed 40 million assessments to arrive at the Global Skills Index.