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U.S. Trails Europe in Technology and Data-Science Skills Ranking

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s largest economy doesn’t stand so tall in a global ranking of technology skills. For the leaders, look to Europe.

U.S. abilities fall more closely to the middle, according to a new index Coursera Inc. has compiled from the online learning platform’s user data. Europe accounted for more than 80 percent of nations in the top quarter of countries across the technology, business, and data science domains, with some consistent leaders across all three of those categories: Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands.

“This advanced skill level is likely a result of Europe’s heavy institutional investment in education via workforce development and public education initiatives,” the report said. “Skill performance within Europe still varies, though. Countries in Eastern Europe with less economic stability don’t perform as well as Western Europe.”

The measure puts Americans in 16th place out of 60 nations for data science, with Israel and Switzerland in the top two spots. It’s 23rd in technology, a category led by Argentina and the Czech Republic, and 18th in business, which is topped by Finland and Switzerland.

The results underscore that the U.S. must invest more in better developing skilled labor to support the kind technological innovation that will keep the economy competitive globally. Mountain View, California-based Coursera created the measures to track global skill trends based on data compiled from 40 million assessments by 3 million platform users from 60 countries and 10 industries, according to a statement released with the report last week.

“The U.S. isn’t really cutting edge across any of the domains, so that suggests that there’s real competition, at least from a skills perspective,” said Emily Glassberg Sands, an economist and head of data science who was the lead author of the report. “As we see more globalization and remote work, our workforces need to be more aware of that because companies can outsource talent.”

In a breakdown of four U.S. regions, the West, home of Silicon Valley, had the best showing for technology and data science, while the Midwest was the best region for business. The South was the weakest in all three categories.

The report also noted a silver lining, of sorts, for America: The U.S. shows the greatest promise in security engineering, “perhaps in response to the growing number of cyber attacks that are threatening corporate and economic stability.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.