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UK lags behind on tech skills

by on14 June 2024

Brazil looks much better 

A new report by online learning platform Coursera indicates that the UK is lagging behind other European nations in tech and business skills proficiency.

Despite hefty investments in AI and other cutting-edge fields, the UK is ranked 25th in technical skills proficiency across Europe, according to the report.

This falls short of regional leaders like Germany (3rd), France (5th), and Spain (7th), raising concerns despite recent government efforts to boost digital skills.

Even developing economies like Brazil (19th) surpass the UK's skillset.

"Latin America's highest-ranked nation is Brazil (19th), with Chile (20th) also among the top 20. Latin America and the Caribbean show a strong commitment to AI readiness," Coursera said.

Globally, the UK fared slightly better, ranking 45th out of 109 countries. Notably, the US, another English-speaking nation heavily invested in tech, also fares poorly, ranking 69th.

In 2022, the UK was at 38th globally but slipped to 64th in 2023.

Coursera's 2024 Global Skills Report analysed data from over 148 million online learners along with other indicators.

One particular area highlighted in the report is AI upskilling. In the past year, the UK saw a lower uptake (961 per cent in year-on-year GenAI course enrolments) compared to the global average (1,060 per cent) and the US (1,058 per cent).

The report indicates that Brazil, with its impressive 1,079 per cent rise in GenAI course enrolments, is prioritising AI skills acquisition more aggressively than the UK.

The UK government estimates that the AI sector employs over 50,000 people and contributes over £3.7 billion to the economy annually, with a projected market size exceeding $1 trillion by 2035.

While AI and machine learning are gaining traction, cybersecurity skills development seems lagging globally.

The Coursera report found a five per cent decline in European cybersecurity course enrolments in 2024 despite Europe being the prime target for cyberattacks.

In October last year, a report by ISC2 found that the UK faces a deepening cybersecurity skills crisis, with a record gap of 73,439 unfilled positions. That represented a worrying 29.3 per cent increase compared to 2022 despite a record high of 367,300 people working in cybersecurity.

The UK's information and communications sector is also grappling with a critical skills shortage. The percentage of unfilled vacancies due to a lack of qualified applicants skyrocketed from 25 per cent in 2017 to a staggering 43 per cent in 2022.

Last modified on 14 June 2024
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