News & Analysis

India drops in skills proficiency metrics, but so does the United States

India dropped four places in the overall skills proficiencies with cloud computing remaining its forte. What's surprising is that the US lost ground in core technology and data science skills

A global skills proficiency report has highlighted what we’ve all known for the longest ever time about India’s education system. Learners in the region continue to improve their skills in areas such as cloud computing that brings cost arbitrage for their organizations. On the other hand, they slipped yet again on foundational and specialized data science skills, which as we have been told is what the world is going to revolve around. 

The Coursera Global Skills Report 2022 may not make for good reading from an Indian point of view, till we get to the point where it starts listing out the learning journeys in the United States. In the last report, the US ranked 29th in the world on learning skills – a position that they’ve held on to now. 

However, while their proficiency in business skills rose, learners in the U.S. fell behind other high-income countries in a number of key technology and data science skills, including software engineering, cloud computing, and mathematics.


What are the global cues?

And in case you’re wondering which part of the world actually leads the way, it’s Europe. Seven of the top ten performing countries in this year’s report are located in Europe. In addition, for the second year in a row, learners in Switzerland achieved the highest level of aggregate skills proficiency.

The report also said proficiency in technology and data science skills varied widely across the Asia-Pacific region. Propelled by learners who perform the best in the world in technology and data science skills, Indonesia rose 39 positions in this year’s aggregate skills proficiency rankings. Yet, in other parts of the region, such as India, Taiwan, and the Philippines, learners slid backward in the digital skills needed to power modernization and growth.


How did India go during the year? 

Last year, the tech sector grew at twice the rate of India’s economy, powered by major domestic giants such as Jio, TCS and Infosys, alongside global names such as Amazon, Twitter, and Alphabet. Revenues were in the range of $227 billion in the fiscal year, but workforce development leaders need to find ways to match the global talent requirements. 

A sign of multinational technology companies looking to South Asia for data science support is the 47% growth in such jobs between 2020 and 2021. However, data proficiency levels have slipped to 26% during the period, resulting in companies struggling to find talent to fill roles without additional training. 

In case India is to make a mark in data science fields, academia needs to invest more in this area as learners continue to focus on financial skills to fulfill the demands from the $31 billion fintech market in 2021. The report says, learners in India are over-indexed on skills that include  investment management (1.38x), blockchain (1.33x), and risk management (1.22x). 

Industry reports estimate that 28 million new technology jobs will be created by 2025, which means learners need to bridge the critical skills gap, especially in data science. Raghav Gupta, MD of India and APAC at Coursera says this is critical if India is to ensure that digital potential does not turn into a lost opportunity. 

“Strong industry-academia-government collaboration that focuses on the rapid deployment of high-quality digital and human skills training would be key to ensuring that the Indian workforce remains resilient and competitive amid rapid technological transformation,” he adds. 


The US story takes a turn

The U.S. labor market may be what one news story called “the pit of despair for employers,”11 but it’s also a chance for workers to rethink what they want from their careers — and how to get it. As workers are being pushed out of old occupations and pulled into new ones, the U.S. labor market is undergoing a sweeping transformation. In this pivotal moment, state and local governments have the opportunity to invest in training programs that will set the foundation for a stronger, more inclusive economy.

Learners in the U.S. focused on human skills like project management, decision making, planning, and experiments. As multinational companies offshore technical skills like computer programming, learners in the U.S. should recognize that it may not be enough to simply have digital skills. No matter their jobs, they’ll need human skills to thrive. Business leaders should prioritize training programs that develop these skills.

Given that the Indian IT sector is over-dependent on US clients, the above could mean that India may continue to provide the workforce for US managers to run businesses. 

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