Saudi Arabia ranks among the world’s top 10 nations for its workforce’s overall business skills, according to US-based massive open online course provider Coursera’s latest Global Skills Report.
The Global Skills Report draws data from 100 million learners in more than 100 countries who have used Coursera to develop a new skill during the past year.
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While the Kingdom has improved its overall business skills proficiency ranking one spot from 11th to the 10th position globally, proficiency in technology and data science can be further improved, the report points out, especially to meet the goals of the digital transformation outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Learners in the Kingdom demonstrated 91 percent business skills proficiency, with strengths in accounting, human resources, and strategy and operations.
The report urges the country’s workforce leaders to find ways to build on this advantage and expand into additional business skills, such as finance, business analytics, and digital marketing.
Most in-demand skill areas
The report benchmarks three of the most in-demand skill areas driving employment in the digital economy -- business, technology, and data science, with rankings of 75 percent or above as cutting-edge, 50 percent to 75 percent as competitive, 25 percent to 50 percent as emerging, and 25 percent or below as lagging.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia has 682,000 Coursera learners with a median age of 34 years and about one-third of all being women. More than half (58 percent) pursue their learning on mobile devices.
Saudi learners showed cutting edge proficiency levels in human resources (97 percent) followed by accounting, and strategy and operations (93 percent each), sales (89 percent), leadership and management (88 percent), and communication (84 percent).
Saudi Arabia, however, ranks 62nd globally in technology skills proficiency and 88th in data science skills. And while learners have cutting-edge technology skills in security engineering (96 percent), computer networking (87 percent) and operating systems (76 percent), the skills are competitive in software engineering (62 percent).
Their skills come in the emerging category across databases (44 percent) and mobile development (40 percent), and as lagging in computer programming and cloud computing (each 21 percent), and web development (11 percent).
In data science skills, the Kingdom’s learners showed emerging skills in mathematics (38 percent), but were seen as lagging in machine learning (19 percent), data analytics (16 percent), and data management (12 percent).
Coursera’s Global Skills Report 2022 states that as the Kingdom transitions to a more sustainable economy, leaders across industry, workforce development, and higher education should reinforce its workforce strengths with the World Economic Forum reporting that Saudi Arabia was among the top 10 countries globally for digital literacy.
Two global trends
Anthony Tattersall, Vice-President for EMEA at Coursera, said: “Saudi Arabia has embarked on an ambitious journey towards digital transformation, and a strong focus on enhancing the skills of its youthful workforce. The Kingdom is already preparing for its future through the Human Capability Development Program, a part of the Saudi Vision 2030. As more impactful strategies are implemented to usher in the digital economy, building a competitive and skilled workforce, especially in areas such as technology and data science, will bring long-term returns.”
As Vice President of Europe, Middle East & Africa for Coursera, Tattersall brings more than 20 years’ experience in the Learning industry and has worked in multiple areas of HR and education solutions, with a significant focus on Learning and Development.
“Following the pandemic, we have seen two trends gain traction globally – the Great Resignation and increased automation of work processes. These have also underlined the need for more investment in nurturing human capital, with priority placed on enhancing digital and human skills required for a competitive workplace. Our data shows that students and employees need fast-tracked training pathways to prepare them for digital jobs today and for the future, and in turn support the national development goals,” Tattersall added.
With over 100 million learners, 7,000+ institutions, and more than 5,000 courses from 250 of the world’s leading universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest data sets for identifying and measuring skill trends.
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