From education to employment

Raging for the Machine: Employers demand AI skills

Ai, tech, finger pointing
  • Employee interest in AI skills surged 271% YoY in 2023
  • 157% YoY increase in enrollments in generative AI courses on Coursera’s online learning platform
  • Cybersecurity and audit skills surge as tech regulation evolves
  • Leadership skills in demand in the face of changing macroeconomic conditions and emerging tech

Generative AI had a rapid impact on the skills landscape over the course of 2023, and its influence is set to grow into 2024. Against this backdrop, new data from Coursera’s  Job Skills of 2024 Report, finds that interest in AI skills has skyrocketed, with searches from enterprise learners  for terms such as ‘AI’, ‘ChatGPT, and ‘generative AI’ increasing 271% YoY.

The report, which identifies the fastest growing skills, based on insights from five million learners affiliated with 3,000 businesses, 3,600 higher education institutions, and governments in over 100 countries, also highlights a 157% YoY increase in enrollments in generative AI courses on the Coursera platform.

Within this rapidly growing field, Reinforcement Learning (which enables learners to build machine learning models) is the fastest-growing AI skill, both overall and across all verticals—with particularly fast growth among government-affiliated learners.

Encouragingly, amid an estimated shortfall of more than 3.4 million cybersecurity workers, the report also finds that cybersecurity skills make up half of the top ten fastest-growing skills in the tech domain. While three out of these ten are developer skills, with demand reflected across verticals. 

Business skills continue to grow as technology evolves 

The 2024 report found that seven out of ten of the fastest-growing skills overall are business skills. As technology and consumer behaviour continues to evolve, digital marketing skills make up half of the top ten fastest-growing business skills, with e-commerce, media strategy & planning, and search engine optimisation the top three overall.

Audit ranked the ninth fastest-growing skill overall and the sixth top business skill—showcasing a growing focus on applying regulatory frameworks, protecting data, and deploying new technologies such as AI safely. 

As emerging technologies like AI shift the demands of the workplace and businesses continue to face macroeconomic disruptions, Coursera finds growing demand for leadership skills that enable institutions to navigate change. These include people management, negotiation, influencing, and employee relations which all sit in the top five fastest growing leadership skills. 

Nikolaz Foucaud, Managing Director, for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Enterprise, at Coursera, commented:  

“The meteoric rise of AI is only set to continue in 2024—with demand for related skills accelerating alongside it. Businesses and institutions looking to capitalise on the promise of greater productivity and increased competitiveness will be seeking AI specialists with a range of skills. 

“Yet rapid technological change can also lead to new risks. Cybersecurity has also seen significant growth this year, alongside audit skills—both of which are vital to keeping data protected, secure, and compliant. Meanwhile, demand for leadership skills has become more prominent, as institutions seek people capable of steering teams and businesses through these times of change and innovation.

“Together, these changing contexts only cement the need for institutions to identify and invest in the right skills for their learners and employees; those that both empower career success and fuel the sustainable growth of businesses  and governments in 2024 and beyond.”

The fastest-growing skills of 2024 are identified through a comparative evaluation of Coursera enterprise learner enrollments between 2022 and 2023. Out of the roughly 300 most granular skills cataloged in the Coursera taxonomy, the fastest-growing skills are those that have seen the biggest increase in their overall enrollment ranking in this period and which therefore are expected to continue to grow or stay popular in 2024.

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