Coursera Global Skills Report 2023: Addressing Changing Labor Market Needs

September 21, 2023


Starting a career in a wealthy country or one with economic promise has always appealed to Egyptians. According to research published by the Egyptian Journal of Commerce Studies (EJCS), “Egypt is considered the largest supplier of migrant labor in the Middle East and one of the largest emigrant populations in the world.”

During a July press event, Soha El Gendy, the Minister of Population and Immigration, said Egyptian expats reached 14 million to date, nearly 14% of the population. She noted, “A significant percentage of them are businessmen working in the energy, export and import, and pharmaceutical sectors.”

According to CAPMAS, the most attractive countries for Egyptians to work and live in are Saudi Arabia, the U.S., UAE, Kuwait, Sudan, Australia, Qatar, and Italy. They comprise over 72.2% of the diaspora.

To remain relevant and of service to international employers, Egyptian expats and those searching for jobs abroad need to ensure they have the necessary skill sets. Being Expat, a portal advising those who take jobs abroad, stressed, “Whether you want to become a more attractive candidate for job openings or take your career in a different direction, investing time in acquiring new skills is an invaluable asset for any expat.”

The Coursera Global Skills Report 2023 detailed the skill sets and knowledge in high demand across various regions. Getting such training is increasingly essential as “digital transformation, automation, and globalization are reshaping the labor market, [creating] an unprecedented need for reskilling and upskilling.”

New skills needed

Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, said 2022 was a “transformational year” in the international labor scene. It witnessed the introduction of a new breed of free artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools called generative AI. ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Microsoft’s Co-Pilot are the most well-known in that category of software. “Generative AI intensifies [the] urgency … to reskill and upskill [employees],” Maggioncalda said. “[It] poses a threat to a new class of knowledge workers.”

The report said those new technologies mean “60% of workers will need retraining between now and 2027, [yet] only half of these workers have access to adequate training opportunities.”

That has altered hiring practices and strategies. Employers are “adopting a skills-focused approach to expand their hiring pipelines and create reskilling pathways for workers,” the report said.

Companies in advanced economies would likely seek hires with “skills that cannot be easily automated, such as project management, change management, and collaboration.” In emerging countries still building their digital economies, companies prefer “to invest in [hires with] digital skills, such as software architecture, mobile development, and programming principles.”

The report noted that AI training — such as artificial neural networks, applied machine learning, and computer vision — is likely the best option for employees. “Almost everyone will need some level of AI proficiency in the future,” the Coursera report said. “Up to 40% of workers could have half or more of their tasks impacted by large language models like those that power ChatGPT.”

However, the report stressed that most international companies “need a combination of both digital and human skills … to harness the opportunities of automation and the side-step its repercussions.”

Accordingly, expats who want to move up the corporate ladder should have both skill sets. “Digital skills hold the promise of higher income and greater career opportunities,” the Global Skills Report 2023 said. “Meanwhile, human skills like analytical judgment, flexibility, and emotional intelligence are essential for employees in an AI-powered future.”

Another requirement for multinational companies, in particular, is that their trained employees hold professional certificates as assurance they passed the training course. “Global demand for professional certificates is surging year on year, particularly … Africa, the Asia Pacific region, and North America,” the report said. “Low-income countries experience the greatest enrollment growth, while high-income countries have the highest overall enrollments.”

For Egyptians seeking careers abroad, the skills they need will depend mainly on where they are working. The top destinations are Gulf countries, considered as an emerging market. The skills they require differ entirely from what advanced economies need, including the U.S., Europe, and Australia, which attract almost all of Egypt’s remaining diaspora.

GCC skill sets

According to CAPMAS, the GCC’s six countries account for 46.7% of Egypt’s diaspora, making them the top destination for Egyptians seeking careers abroad. The Global Skills Report 2023 found that nearly 60% of learners in that region use mobile phones to take courses. Meanwhile, the growth rate of those enrolling in professional certificates increased by 32% compared to the previous year.

The report noted that learners in MENA are strong in ‘business’ skills, with GCC countries achieving ‘cutting-edge’ scores. That contrasts with “technology” and “data science” skills, which shows “a gap throughout the region.”

The report added that within the “business” skills landscape, “learners in MENA are more likely to invest in marketing skills and social media [and] advertising.” Employees also prefer taking courses in “leadership skills like people analysis, human learning, and influencing.”

In “technology” and “data science” training, learners preferred “to invest in AI-related data science skills like deep learning, artificial neural networks, and computer vision,” the report said. Learners also showed interest in “computer graphic techniques, graphic design, and interactive design.”

What Europe wants

The EU nations are also another popular destination for Egyptian expats, CAMPAS figures show. The bloc comprises wealthy advanced economies, and the skills they require are the best in the world. The Coursera report noted, “Learners in Europe show strong overall skill performance, occupying 19 out of the top 25 global rankings for overall skills proficiency.”

Around 39% of learning in Europe happens on mobile phones. Meanwhile, enrollment in professional certificates increased by 26% from the previous year.

Getting top-tier training is vital for most European countries. “Regional leaders [are] further investing in developing learners in data science to support AI-related skills like machine learning,” the report said.

A breakdown shows that “Europe ranks [first] globally for ‘business’ skills [with] more than half of countries earning ‘competitive’ or ‘cutting edge’ proficiency scores.” The report said Luxemburg, Switzerland, and Denmark are the top countries in the “business” category. The most likely skills learners seek are “innovation, human learning, and negotiation.”

The continent is the second globally in “technology” and “data science.” The report said that Spain, Switzerland, and Ukraine are the top nations in “technology” skills. Meanwhile, Spain, Luxembourg, and Germany seek those with top-tier “data science” training and knowledge. Companies in those nations seek employees with skills in “artificial neural networks and deep learning [to] support [their] emerging AI market.”

Rebuilding industry

The U.S. is the second most popular destination for Egyptian expats after Saudi Arabia. According to CAPMAS, the number of Egyptians working in the U.S. accounts for over 15.78% of Egypt’s diaspora.

There should be a lot of fresh job opportunities as the country is rebuilding its economy fueled by initiatives like the $222 billion CHIPS and Science Act, passed in July 2022. By the end of last year, manufacturing in the U.S. had grown 4.6%, according to official data. That is over twice the overall GDP growth rate of 2.06%.

Accordingly, the world’s largest economy needs an increasing number of highly skilled workers to implement the government’s strategy. Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, said in July, “This legislation is going to create good paying jobs.”

That means Egyptians chasing a career in the U.S. must seek top-notch training as there is a lot of competition for diverse jobs in America. “The U.S. has the largest number of learners in the world,” the Global Skills Report 2023 said. “[They have] the world’s highest … demand for professional certificates, which 86% of U.S. employers believe strengthens a candidate’s job application.”

The Coursera report notes that 41% of learning happens on smartphones, while those enrolling in professional certificates increased by 53% compared to the 2022 report.

The document noted that “U.S. learners perform best in ‘business’ skills, [particularly] accounting, … sales, [and] marketing.” Soft skills training is also popular, especially “business skills pertaining to … change management, collaboration, and business communication.”

In second place is “data science,” in particular data analysis. The report said learners invest in SQL and data visualization software. Meanwhile, “technology” skills are the “greatest opportunity for investment.” The top specializations are network architecture and user experience.

Other major destinations

According to CAPMAS, Australia and South Africa are among the 17 countries Egyptian expats favor the most. The former, an advanced nation, aims to “increase … annual GDP growth rate by between 0.7% and 1.2% [until 2030],” said the Australia 2030 Prosperity Through Innovation document. “The mix of future occupations is uncertain, but the skills needed to perform them are clear.”

The country “scores lower [than other advanced nations] in business skills.” The highlight strength is “human resources,” while “strategy and operation” is a “key area for improvement.” In “technology” and “data science,” the Global Skills Report 2023 report says Australia is “competitive” globally.

A third of learners use their smartphones, while those seeking professional certification increased by 12% from the previous year.

South Africa, the second biggest economy in Africa after Nigeria, requires qualified talents to fuel its economy to new highs. According to the 2022 Africa Industrialization Index, the country is the continent’s “most industrialized economy.” In August, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed that industrialization is vital for moving the nation forward.

The Global Skills Report 2023 says the “business” skills score makes South Africa “competitive.” The worst scores were in “finance,” “human resources,” and “communication.” Meanwhile, “technology” and “data science” are classified as “an opportunity for improvement.”

The report said 58% of learners got their training from smartphone apps, and those seeking professional certificates increased by a third from the previous year.

Learners in South Africa are most interested in taking courses in auditing, investment management, innovation, and risk management. The top specializations in “technology” and “data science” are network architecture, computer programming tools, and interactive design.

Constantly upgrading skills is as critical for Egyptians seeking a long-term career abroad as is understanding the evolving needs of the country they work in. That is because most of them don’t plan to return to Egypt, especially if they relocate to a developed, wealthy nation. Research from Mansoura University published in October 2021 shows, “The proportion intending to stay in the host country increases to 67% among Egyptian migrants in Europe and 88% among those in North America.”