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By Shwetabh MittalSenior Director, Product Management

The great lockdown caused by COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital skills. Companies are reallocating their digital talent to stay competitive and dedicating more time and resources to helping their employees learn about digital technologies. The pandemic has had an even bigger impact on higher education: around 1.6 billion learners have been affected by school and campus closures. The growth of enrollments in online learning has gone up by 644 percent. 

COVID-19 is severely affecting the way our jobs are evolving, and it’s estimated that 149 million new digital jobs will be created within the next five years. The majority will be software development, cloud technology, data analysis, machine learning, and AI. Many workers now worry they lack the skills that will be most sought after when the economy starts back up. It’s our goal to enhance the Coursera platform in response and cater to the most in-demand skills. 

We recently touched on this in our Q3 update, where we explored the current skills landscape and how our latest content and product features will help you improve both skill development and measurement. Read on for all the details.

The current skills landscape: The backbone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution remains strong

At Coursera, we constantly analyze the data we get from our 70 million learners in more than 60 countries and match them to around 40,000 tagged skills. We use the insights we learn to help guide our customers and adapt our platform to reflect the skills landscape.

In our latest Global Skills Index, we found that industries with higher skill proficiencies, especially in technology, are seeing higher stock returns and less disruption from COVID-19. Investment in skills is crucial to remain relevant in today’s environment.

The most popular areas on Coursera are still data science, business, and technology – the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution. Python remains the number one skill, while there’s an increase in HTML, CSS, other web technologies, and the Internet of Things. On the data side, Microsoft Excel and SQL are on the rise. We’re seeing a decrease in general statistics, TensorFlow, and R programming because companies are increasingly focusing on basic data analysis. Finally, business skills that are going up are communication skills like negotiation and writing, and managing a supply chain. At the same time, Excel, project management, and leadership continue to dominate the top. 

For a deeper dive into talent transformation, download our Essential Skills Playbook as well as the Global Skills Index, and contact us to learn more about Coursera’s enterprise learning platform.

New content launches to drive skills development

We now have more than 4,500 courses on our platform, and four new ones launch every day. Our focus is on the most critical skills, and we are monitoring emerging and trending skills all the time. 

On the business side, for example, we’re investing in remote work, data-driven decision-making, and automation. In data science, we have a great data literacy course coming up, and in tech we’ll be expanding content in particular in cybersecurity and web development, covering the ever-evolving landscape of tools and programming languages. We’re also increasing our cloud computing content with a particular focus on certification prep, AWS, and Azure.

Here’s a quick overview of a few recent content launches:

By the end of 2020, we’ll have about 1,000 Guided Projects – hands-on learning experiences designed to be completed in less than two hours – on our platform. 

Introducing SkillSets, an intuitive way to build critical learning plans

In our conversations with companies about upskilling their employees, we’ve heard about four main challenges: it can be hard to build a learning plan that accurately reflects their needs, to find the right content and make it easily accessible, to maintain a high level of engagement after launch and foster a culture of learning, and finally to measure the value or ROI to know whether the program was successful.

To help you solve these challenges, we’ve created a new exciting Coursera feature called SkillSets – job-based learning programs that build critical skills proficiency.

SkillSets, currently in beta, enable learners and their employers to discover the future skills they need by role. Select from over 100 pre-made SkillSets that help develop critical and evergreen skills for key roles in your organization, so you can reskill and upskill team members efficiently. Alternatively, simply customize SkillSets or create them from scratch. 

This new SkillSets functionality is live on the Data Science, Cloud, and Software Engineering academies, with Leadership, Marketing, and Finance coming soon. To participate in the beta program, just talk to your customer success manager, and we’ll help you get set up. 

Streamlined Guided Projects authoring

We’ve also made it easier for businesses and universities to create their own Guided Projects. These are great opportunities for learners to practice their skills right in the browser. They don’t need to set up anything and just follow visual instructions in real-time.

The authoring experience has recently been improved to be much more seamless and intuitive for enterprise subject matter experts to tailor projects to their organization’s needs with minimal effort.

Making the most out of Guided Projects drives deeper mastery of the material and ensures learners really understand how they can apply their new skills within the context of the organization.

If you are interested in trying out our improved Guided Projects authoring, contact your Customer Success Manager for access. 

Transformative skills-first learning

Our latest enhancements to the Coursera platform will help you improve both skill development and measurement. Whether you’re looking to reskill or upskill your team, we’re giving you the tools to discover the content you need to achieve your learning goals, so you no longer need to worry about what the constantly evolving business landscape means for your organization. Our skills-first experience motivates learners and helps them boost their skills, while managers can ensure it’s tailored to their organization, plan learning objectives, and measure progress.

The world is going through constant change and disruption, which has resulted in a challenging transition for millions of workers. The good news is that online learning is easier and ever before. We’re excited about helping you plan for the skills of tomorrow, develop cutting-edge skills to stay competitive, and hire candidates with the right skill. 

To find out more about SkillSets, the streamlined Guided Projects authoring process, and everything else that’s now, watch our quarterly release webinar. Happy learning!