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UK fails to break out as tech skills superpower on global skills leaderboard

The UK has long aimed to establish itself as a leading force in science and technology, with substantial investments in artificial intelligence and other advanced fields. However, despite these efforts, recent findings from Coursera’s 2024 Global Skills Report reveal concerning trends in the nation’s progress.

Despite government-backed efforts to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030, with multi-million-pound investment in AI, new research launched today from online learning platform Coursera places the UK 45th globally for technology and business skills proficiency.

The results indicate that the UK is continuing to fall behind in the global race for key skills, having ranked 38th in 2022 and 64th in 2023. This year, the UK continues to be outperformed by prominent European counterparts, including Germany (3rd), France (5th), and Spain (7th), as well as developing economies like Brazil (19th). The UK’s struggles to upskill are matched and exceeded by other Anglophone peers, most notably the United States, which places 69th.

Explosive growth in GenAI upskilling 

Coursera’s Global Skills Report data reveals rapid growth in GenAI course enrolments – a 1,060% year-on-year increase – as the world races toward AI literacy. While the UK has seen a 961% increase in AI upskilling in the past 12 months, it has seen a lower uptake than the global average and lags behind the US (1,058%).

Nations across the world appear to be prioritising AI upskilling more than the UK. In Brazil, which ranks among the global top 20, and which attains cutting-edge proficiency in tech and data science, there has been a 1,079% year-on-year increase in GenAI course enrollments.

“With the UK technology sector employing millions of people and contributing over £150 billion to the nation’s economy, the country’s institutions and leaders must continue to prioritise upskilling to remain competitive in the AI age – one in which two-third of jobs may be exposed to some degree of automation” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “This report aims to offer actionable insights for UK businesses, governments, and academic institutions as they respond to this unprecedented disruption, and contribute to a future in which access to high-quality learning empowers everyone.”

As the global landscape for technology and business skills rapidly evolves, the UK faces significant challenges in keeping pace. To secure its position as a science and technology leader, the nation must intensify its focus on skill development and embrace the potential of AI-driven innovation.

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