Female enrolment in STEM courses increased to 46% in 2020

The most popular courses included computer science, programming, and machine learning

The share of female enrolment in STEM courses increased to 46% in the UK 2020, according to online course provider Coursera.

The e-learning site's latest Global Skills Report (GSR) found that, in the UK, female STEM course enrolment surged in popularity in the first half of the year, jumping by 14% in six months.

The uptake was also noted globally, with the share of female enrollment in STEM courses increasing from 34% in 2018-19 to 42% in 2020.

The most popular STEM courses included computer science, programming, and machine learning (ML), the latter of which was found to be the most popular course in the UK in 2020, with a 72% skills proficiency. In the field of data science, UK users were found to have a 69% skills proficiency, while the nation's technology skills proficiency was found to be at 57%. 

Nevertheless, the UK was found to lag behind in global and European rankings, placing 34th globally in data skills and 47th in technology skills. Earlier this week, it was also reported that the UK government's digital skills failure is costing £6bn in lost GDP per year.

According to Anthony Tattersall, EMEA VP at Coursera, "access to a variety of job-relevant credentials, including a path to entry-level digital jobs, will be key to reskilling at scale and accelerating economic recovery in the UK and beyond".

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Tattersall also commented on the new partnership between Google and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), saying that "it's great to see the UK government taking early action by joining forces with Google to offer scholarships for digital upskilling on Coursera".

The Google Career Certificates courses, which launched on 26 May, cover a range of in-demand skills, from IT support and UX design, to project management and data analytics.

Based on the findings from the report, Coursera recommended that learners "invest in both soft and technical skills to stay job-relevant in a rapidly evolving labour market". 

This could mean mixing problem-solving and organisational development with technical skills such as security engineering and computer networking, in order to score an entry-level job in cloud computing, or data analysis software with creativity and communication for entry-level marketing roles.

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