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Like many countries Pakistan faces the skills shortage problem given the rising demand by the employers as well as the rising focus towards cloud computing, big data, automation and artificial intelligence. World Economic Forum has estimated that half of the worldwide jobs will be changed by automation over the next 10 years. Employees thus have been focusing on acquiring additional skills to climb up the professional ladder, and online courses - free as well as paid – have been instrumental in the recent past.

The trend of upskilling and reskilling though online courses might not be as strong as in other countries like India, Brazil, or Mexico, but there has been a marked shift towards online professional learning in Pakistan. And the global pandemic might have hastened this process where online platforms like Udemy, Coursera and others are being used.

Interestingly however, Coursera’s latest skill study shows Pakistan at a better position than India in terms of skill level of its learners. The study draws on performance data since the pandemic's beginning from more than 77 million learners on the platform to benchmark skills proficiency across business, technology, and data science and offers sneak peek into the state of skills in over 100 countries. Pakistan ranks at 65th place in the Coursera’s Global Skills Report 2021 – above India – where the skill level of its people is portrayed to be better across two key categories: business and technology with India leading in the third: data sciences.

Pakistan has emerged as one of the top 10 markets in the Asia-Pacific region for Coursera, with a staggeringly high enrollment since March 2020 on Coursera platform from Pakistan. A key factor has been the transition to online learning during the pandemic. HEC also partnered with Coursera to build a learning program that provides job skills to university students. The Coursera Global Skill Report 2021 shows that the program consists of a variety of job-related learning paths such as data analytics, computer science, and cybersecurity. Coursera on Campus with free access is being used by many universities including Pakistan today.

Though the skill trends and proficiency analyses are a view through Coursera’s lens, some of its insights reflects the reality. A key highlight of the report is that it also shows the top skills including the learning hours required for high-demand entry-level jobs. A similar report by Udemy – Global Skill Gap Report 2019-20 though includes survey administered in January 2020 before the global pandemic – also highlights the skill gap that has grown as technology and employers’ demands evolve – and the need to bridge the gap to remain competitive and employable in a digital world.

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