November 29, 2023

Trena Minudri, Coursera’s Director of Education

Ongoing economic instability and corporate cost-cutting are causing L&D budgets to shrink and every remaining dollar spent is being scrutinized. In 2022, 54% of HR leaders agreed that management often views L&D as a cost rather than an investment. Learning leaders are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate the ROI of their programs. While these leaders strive to create strategic skills development plans for their organization, many lack the necessary skills data to do so effectively.

Today, we’re excited to announce that Coursera and the Burning Glass Institute (BGI) have partnered to develop Skills Compass, an innovative framework that enables L&D leaders to design strategic learning programs and make informed decisions about how much cost and time to invest. By synthesizing data from more than a million students and millions of job offersSkills Compass enables organizations to assess the time required to acquire skills, the value of skills and the lifespan of selected skills to create learning programs that have a positive business impact.

“Over the past five years, 37% of the average job skill has been replaced,” said Matt Sigelman, president of the Burning Glass Institute. “Such a breathtaking pace of change makes it very difficult to determine which skills to invest in or how different training options will pay off. The Skills Compass offers L&D leaders actionable, data-driven guidance to make skills planning more effective and maximize the return on investment on their training investment.”

The Skills Compass report uses data on the longevity and market value of essential skills to make recommendations for implementing learning. Skills such as cloud computing, engineering, AI, ML, communication and problem solving, among others, are quantified across three dimensions to better understand how and how much to invest in them:

  • Time for a skill – Measures the time it takes to learn a skill.
  • Skill value – Calculates the average salary in the market for this skill.
  • Longevity of skills – Assesses how long a skill is considered relevant to the market after the skill has been acquired.

Through this analysis, Coursera and BGI formulated an investment thesis behind common “skill types” so that learning leaders can determine how best to prioritize, invest, and deploy critical capabilities in their organization. The measured skills landed in five different themes:

  • A solid investment: The cost and time required to acquire these skills are usually high, but their lifespan is also high. This includes skills such as risk management and project management, as they are particularly resilient and expensive to develop, while not being so expensive to hire.
  • Quick Dividend: These skills have medium to high longevity, but are also unique because they are often cheaper to learn than to hire. For example, Salesforce administration and data structure skills are technical skills that can pay off over many years and are less difficult to learn.
  • Permanent: Skills in this category have a very long lifespan and are often extremely cheap to hire or develop. Investing in skills like teamwork or research has a high return on investment because they can be acquired relatively quickly and yet have a long lifespan.
  • Adaptive: These skills are expensive to hire and expensive to acquire. Unlike Solid Investment skills, Adaptive skills do not have the same level of longevity. This category includes technical skills like Swift and Network Security that require constant updating and education to keep up with changes.
  • Goods: These are broadly acquired skills that are often inexpensive to acquire through hiring. Historically, these are skills that have been around for many years. Examples of skills include web development and cascading style sheets (CSS).

In an uncertain business environment, learning leaders need strategic clarity on how to deliver vital data-driven skills planning to their organization. With the Skills Compass, these leaders can use the insights from this report for reskilling, upskilling and deep skills to ensure they are targeting and investing in the right skills for their workforce.

To download the full Skills Compass 2023 report, visit here.

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