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Indians strong in math but lag in data skills, finds Coursera study

Indians have 52 per cent proficiency in ML & 54 per cent in mathematical skills. There is significant room for improvement in two key skills for digital transformation - data analysis and statistical programming, ranked only at 25 per cent and 15 per cent skills proficiency, respectively

Of the 30 million new learners who joined the platform in 2020, over 5.7 million learners were from India Of the 30 million new learners who joined the platform in 2020, over 5.7 million learners were from India

Despite showing high proficiency in machine learning (ML) and mathematics, Indian users are lagging in data skills, according to Coursera's Global Skills Report 2021 released on Wednesday.

Indians have 52 per cent proficiency in ML & 54 per cent in mathematical skills. However, there is significant room for improvement in two key skills for digital transformation - data analysis and statistical programming, ranked only at 25 per cent and 15 per cent skills proficiency, respectively, the report noted.

As demand for data scientists outstrips supply worldwide, India is also grappling with a shortage of data science professionals, it said. The report, based on data from 77 million users on Coursera platform across 108 countries from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, covers the most popular domains on Coursera in terms of enrollments - business, technology, and data science.

Of the 30 million new learners who joined the platform in 2020, over 5.7 million learners were from India. Despite the increase in enrollments, the report highlights that India continues to witness a digital skills gap. The platform has a total of 10.6 million Indian users.

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Further, the report found that Indian learners are relatively more adept at digital skills like cloud computing and machine learning but there is a significant skill challenge across the three key domains of business, technology, and data science. Cloud Computing is India's strongest technology skill with 83 per cent proficiency.

Overall, India ranks 67th globally with 38 per cent proficiency. The country ranks at 55 in business and at 66 in both technology and data science. Within Asia, India ranks low at 16, ahead of countries such as the Philippines and Thailand, but below others like Singapore and Japan. "The pace of skills transformation is slower than the pace of digital transformation in India, as is the case in several countries across the world. Learners must invest in both soft and technical skills to prepare for jobs of the future," said Raghav Gupta, managing director - India and APAC, Coursera.

Further, the report shows an increase in Indian women enrolling for STEM courses on the platform. It went from 22 per cent pre-2020 to 33 per cent in 2020, the second highest increase globally. However, with women accounting for only 37 per cent in the overall learner share, there is a gap in access to online learning. Interestingly, the report also found it takes only months and not years to learn digital skills required for entry-level roles.

Recent graduates and mid-career changers can develop entry-level, digital job skills in as little as 35 to 70 hours or 1-2 months with 10 learning hours per week. On the other hand, someone with no degree or technology experience can be job-ready in 80 to 240 hours or 2-6 months with 10 learning hours per week.

The most transferable skills across all future jobs are in human skills like problem solving and communication, computer literacy, and career management, it said.

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