Industry Spotlight

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The Fastest-Growing Job Skills for Universities to Prioritize in 2024

In an ever-evolving job market, higher education plays a crucial role in preparing students for strong career outcomes. I’m excited to share that Coursera’s third annual Job Skills Report is here to guide higher ed leaders as they navigate this landscape by highlighting the essential skills and credentials that are shaping the workforce. 

The Job Skills of 2024 report draws from a diverse learner base of over five million individuals spanning 3,000 businesses, 3,600 higher education institutions, and governments across 100 countries to provide a comprehensive view of this year’s fastest-growing skills. These learners, who are central to our mission of employment readiness and upskilling, form a key subset of our overall 136 million learners. By analyzing the fastest-growing skills among our enterprise learners, we are able to surface meaningful skill trends for 2024 and beyond.

This year’s report explores key global job skill trends, including: 

Trend #1: Leadership skills for supporting teams through organizational change are a growing priority. This year, we’ve seen a notable rise in the importance of leadership skills, especially those centered around empathy, strategic thinking, and nurturing employee growth. The rapidly shifting macroeconomic landscape, coupled with the proliferation of technologies like AI, is creating new demands on leaders. By equipping students with leadership skills, higher education leaders can enhance their employability and empower them to be effective leaders in an ever-evolving professional world.

Trend #2: AI-related skills are driving record-breaking course enrollments. At Coursera we’re witnessing a remarkable surge in AI-related learning. In just this past year, our catalog of over 800 AI-related courses has attracted more than 6.8 million enrollments collectively. The course Generative AI for Everyone from DeepLearning.ai amassed 43,000 enrollments in the first 7 days, making it the fastest-growing course in 2023. Investing in AI-related skills will be key for preparing students for an AI-enabled world.

Trend #3: Demand is surging for cybersecurity and information security skills. Half of the top tech skills listed in the report are cybersecurity skills. Given that there’s an estimated shortfall of nearly 3.5 million cybersecurity workers, investments in cybersecurity skills development programs mark an opportunity for higher education institutions to ready students for the job market. 

Trend #4: Skills for understanding and communicating data continue to be among the fastest-growing. Data visualization’s continued growth as a top skill in 2024. With research indicating that 70% of employees will need to heavily use data by 2025 and that only 11% of employees currently feel confident in their data skills, there’s a clear directive for higher education leaders to enhance curricula with a focus on data literacy and storytelling. This approach will empower students to excel in a data-driven professional world.

Trend #5: Demand for web development and computing skills remains high. Several of the fastest-growing tech skills are focused on web frameworks and cloud computing skills. With the global cloud computing market expected to reach $591.8 billion in 2023, and 73% of employees feeling underprepared for digital skills needed in business, there’s a clear opportunity. Higher education leaders must prioritize incorporating these tech skills into their curricula to address a critical skills gap and provide students with a viable path to employment in these high-growth areas.

Trend #6: Curated learning paths, like Professional Certificates and Specializations, are driving the largest skill rank changes. Enterprise learner enrollments in entry-level Professional Certificates have increased by 27%, non-entry-level Professional Certificates by 34%, and Specializations by 18% this past year, reflecting a growing adoption of micro-credentials. Our partnership with the University of Texas System exemplifies this, offering access to more than 35 Professional Certificates—from leading companies such as Google, IBM, and Salesforce—to over 246,000 individuals. For higher education leaders, this trend is significant. That employers are 72% more likely to hire someone with a Professional Certificate highlights the critical role of these learning paths in enhancing student employability and meeting the evolving needs of the job market.

​​The Job Skills of 2024 Report provides a valuable signal for leaders in higher education who are dedicated to equipping students with the skills they need to secure and advance their careers. By investing in these rapidly evolving skill areas, higher education institutions can create a workforce equipped to tackle current challenges and poised for the future.

To explore the findings and key global trends underlined in Coursera’s third annual Job Skills Report, visit: coursera.org/skills-reports/job-skills.

 

Marni Baker Stein is Coursera’s Chief Content Officer. Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with 136 million registered learners as of September 30, 2023. Coursera partners with over 300 leading university and industry partners to offer a broad catalog of content and credentials, including courses, Specializations, Professional Certificates, Guided Projects, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Institutions around the world use Coursera to upskill and reskill their employees, citizens, and students in fields such as data science, technology, and business. Coursera became a Delaware public benefit corporation and a B Corp in February 2021.

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