2023 has been the year of AI – generative AI in particular has a “meteoric rise”, in the words of Coursera’s new Job Skills of 2024 research.
Writing in the report, Andrew Ng, co-founder and chairman at the learning tech giant, noted: “Just as electricity transformed industries a century ago, AI is reshaping our global economy.”
McKinsey estimates that generative AI could contribute $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy in productivity gains.
Ng continued: “In this rapidly evolving world, leaders have a responsibility to equip the individuals they serve with the necessary AI skills, not only to enhance their employability, but also to empower them to reshape the nature of their work.”
The good news is that that learners, and organizations, are well aware of the need for AI – and specifically generative AI skills – given the disruption this emerging technology is expected to have on the future of work.
Coursera’s Job Skills of 2024 did a deep dive into the data from 5 million learners and 3,000 businesses in 100 countries worldwide round that AI-related skills drove record-breaking course enrollments in 2023.
Coursera’s data shows there was a whopping 157% year-on-year increase in enrollments in generative AI courses.
Talking exclusively to UNLEASH, Coursera’s managing director for EMEA Hadi Moussa shares: “Our internal data indicates that a learner enrolled in a Generative AI course on Coursera roughly every minute in 2023.
“Similarly, our most recent addition to our generative AI course portfolio, ‘Generative AI for Everyone’, received 43,000 total enrollments in its first week after release, making it our fastest-growing course in 2023.”
However, Coursera’s report found that AI skills weren’t everything – and the fastest growing skills overall in 2023 were softer, human skills – for Moussa, this was the most surprising finding in Coursera’s Job Skills of 2024 report.
This finding confirms recent conclusions from LinkedIn.
92% of leaders in the US and the UK surveyed by the professional social network believe that people skills are more important than ever, plus 72% of US executives think that people skills are more valuable to their organization than AI skills.
Coursera found that fastest growing skills of 2023 were in fact business skills, especially those linked with digital marketing and customer experience.
Moussa adds: “Seven of our ten fastest-growing skills are business skills – for individuals seeking to render themselves more employable, it is essential to remember that being able to acquire and demonstrate these skills is as important as knowing how to utilize specific technologies.”
Leaderships skills as vital as AI
As well as business skills, Coursera’s 2024 skills report also found that leadership skills are becoming more prominent – all leadership skills tracked by Coursera increased their rank in 2023.
Talking about this trend, Moussa comments: “Companies should remember that while every organization benefits from having talented data scientists, machine learning specialists, and cybersecurity engineers, much of their success hinges on whether their workforce can work with people, and understand the demands of a changing world.”
Organizations have been through immense change in the 2020s so far, and 2024 is looking like no exception. There is going to be a need for leaders to focus in on empathy, team building and team management next year.
Remember, managers are major factor in whether people stay or leave their jobs, so dialing into leadership skills can help reduce attrition crises and the talent shortages companies are facing.
“It’s crucial that businesses and individuals realize the need for people who are capable of steering teams through rapid change,” continues Moussa.
Ultimately, “as more basic tasks become automated, learners and leaders alike are realizing that only with a blend of the right technical and soft skills will they be well-placed for success,” states Moussa.
He concludes that HR leaders have a crucial role in getting learning right in 2024.
“Any strong learning and development program begins with taking the time to understand existing competencies – skills benchmarking is the first step,” Moussa adds.
“Once a leader knows whether its skills gaps are technical or human, they will be well-placed to take the necessary steps to remedy those gaps.”
It’s time to say goodbye to one-size-fits-all approaches to learning in 2024, and for learning leaders to step up, and use their expertise to find the best solutions for their people and their employer.
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