India lags in data science skills, but surges ahead other countries in business and technology skills

New Delhi: Higher skill proficiency is linked to GDP growth, labor force participation, and income equality, according to Coursera’s latest Global Skills Index. The report released today by the world’s leading online learning platform provides an in-depth look at the state of skills around the world. Looking across the 65 million learners on the platform, and drawing on rich performance data of learners in the past twelve months, the report benchmarks skills proficiency for 60 countries, 10 industries, and 11 fields of study in business, technology, and data science. The report also provides an early analysis of the pandemic’s impact on the skills landscape.

The pandemic has impacted the lives of more than 555 million workers and 200 million higher education students around the world. In India, the unemployment rate reached 27.1% in early May, as nearly 122 million Indians lost their jobs between March and April. To revive jobs and economies, institutions must enable widespread access to skills development so that people can swiftly enter and return to the workforce. This requires understanding the state of job-relevant skills for their respective populations, including for their countries, industries, and fields of study. Equipped with insights from the report, leaders across private, public, and education sectors can shape reskilling efforts for economic revival.

“Workforce recovery in a post-pandemic world relies on broad base reskilling. Institutions must lead this effort by providing people with equal access to skills needed for the jobs of the future,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “This year’s Global Skills Index reveals skills trends and insights that will inspire institutions to coordinate skills development for a more inclusive and advanced workforce.”

Coursera is committed to partnering with governments, businesses, and universities around the world to put this data into action. Through Coursera’s Campus Response Initiative and Workforce Recovery Initiative, there are already nearly 10,000 programs led by universities and governments to deliver free online learning. Together, the two initiatives have equipped more than 1.3 million people with job-relevant skills. In India, where 37.5 million students have been out of campus, Coursera has received more than 11,000 requests for the Campus Response Initiative, out of which more than 3,850 programs have been activated across thousands of universities and colleges.

The report maps 16 countries across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region and 60 countries globally. India ranks in the emerging or lagging categories across key skill domains including Business (#8/16 in APAC and #34/60 globally), Technology (#10/16 in APAC and #40/60 globally) and Data Science (#12/16 in APAC and #51/60 globally).

Key insights from the report include:


India lags in data science skills, especially in data management. Within the data science domain, India ranks #51 globally (lagging) and #12 among APAC countries in data science overall. Within the data management competency, India ranks #58 globally [only slightly better than Nigeria (0%) and Philippines (2%)] and #15 among APAC countries in data management skills at 3% skills proficiency (lagging).

Rapid rise of big data and analytics has caused a massive shortage of data science professionals. According to a report by Accenture and Qlik , lack of data skills costs Indian firms productivity worth INR 332 billion every year.

India surges ahead of China in business and technology skills. Within the business domain, India ranks #34 globally (emerging), whereas China ranks #45. Within the technology domain, India ranks #40 globally (emerging), whereas China ranks #50.

As per the 2018 Talent Crunch study by Korn Ferry India will have a talent surplus by 2030 driven by a growing, younger working population compared to the aging population in China. India’s emphasis on affordable and accessible education, especially at the college level, will produce a vast number of Level A talent. As per the study, by 2030 the talent surplus will be the most visible in industries like financial services (with a surplus of 1.1 million professionals), technology, media, telecommunications (with a surplus of 1.3 million professionals), and manufacturing (with a surplus of 2.44 million professionals).

Globally, APAC is an emerging region for data science skills. 12 out of 16 countries in APAC are either lagging or emerging in data science. Only 4 countries display competitive skills in data science: Hong Kong (75%), Singapore (73%) New Zealand (59%), and Australia (54%).

Businesses are deploying data and analytics tools to manage higher data volume and derive deeper insights to support their business strategy. PwC’s report Global Industry 4.0 finds that nearly 82% of companies in the APAC region are expected to implement data-driven strategies within the next five years..


Countries, both developed and developing, excelling in critical skills see more income equality. Our data reveals a negative correlation between a country’s average skill proficiency across domains and the share of income held by the top 10 percent in a country. (Secondary data: World Bank)
Every skill proficiency percent gained for a country is associated with a $600 increase in GDP per capita. (Secondary data: World Bank)
Industries with more highly skilled talent, especially in technology skills, see higher stock returns and less disruption from COVID-19. Our data reveals the correlation between an industry’s skill proficiency and its one-year U.S. stock return is 43% across all skill domains and 39% with the technology domain. (Secondary data: Fidelity)
Of the 200 million higher education students whose studies have been disrupted by COVID-19, 80% are located in countries with emerging or lagging skills. Eighty percent of students enrolled in tertiary education are located in countries that have both closed schools due to COVID-19 and are in the bottom half of the world rankings for proficiency in business, technology, and data science skills. (Secondary data: UNESCO)
Institutions navigating COVID-19 continue to prioritize business, technology, and data science skills. Over two-thirds of the enrollments by governments, companies, and campuses on the Coursera platform are in courses teaching business, technology, and data science skills. The share of enrollments shifted marginally by an average of 6 percent before and after the pandemic hit.
Demand for personal development skills like confidence, stress management, and mindfulness has grown by 1,200% among individual learners. Individuals are turning to courses like Yale University’s Science of Well-Being to mitigate mental and emotional distress caused by the pandemic.

With 65 million learners, including 8.7 million learners in India, and more than 4,000 courses from the world’s top universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest datasets for identifying skill trends. The evolved methodology for GSI 2020 uses a patent-pending algorithm that more comprehensively accounts for selection biases.

To download the full report, visit