More women in Singapore upskilling for new economy

Photo by Mentatdgt

The gender skills gap in Singapore narrowed during the pandemic, according to a new global study that examines the pandemic’s impact on skills and learning trends among women. 

Coursera’s Women and Skills Report 2021 for Singapore compares pre-pandemic enrolment and performance data with trends observed on the Coursera platform since the onset of the pandemic through June 2021. It reveals that women in Singapore are learning online at higher rates compared to pre-pandemic, representing 48 per cent of new learners in 2021, up from 44 per cent in 2019.

More women are also participating in certificate training programmes aimed at entry-level digital jobs.

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“Our research suggests that gender gaps in online learning narrowed during the pandemic, even as gender employment gaps widened,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “We are encouraged by how women are embracing online learning to develop new skills that can help accelerate their return to work and promote economic mobility.” 

Singapore insights from the Women and Skills Report include:

Women are turning to online education at higher rates than pre-pandemic.

In 2020, a peak of 51 per cent of new registered Singaporean learners were women. While this share is at 48 per cent in 2021, it still represents a significant increase from 42 per cent in 2018. 

More women are enrolling in STEM courses and entry-level Professional Certificates. 

In Singapore, the share of overall course enrolments by women increased from 36 per cent in 2019 to 42 per cent in 2021. For STEM courses, the gender gap narrowed from 30 per cent enrolments by women in 2019 to 35 per cent in 2021.

Women’s enrolments in entry-level Professional Certificates have gone up from 30 per cent in 2019 to 39 per cent in 2021. This is higher than the global share of 25 per cent in 2019 to 37 per cent in 2021.

These certificates, from industry leaders such as Google, IBM and Facebook, are designed to prepare learners without a college degree or technology experience for a wide range of high-demand digital jobs. 

Top skills among Singaporean women show a balanced investment in human and digital skills. 

Top 10 skills from the past year include leadership skills, like communication (110,000 enrolments among women in Singapore), leadership and management (90,000), entrepreneurship (90,000) and business analysis (80,000). 

Women are also investing in STEM skills, like probability and statistics (110,000), machine learning (90,000), computer programming (90,000) and data analysis (80,000).

Product innovations help grow women’s participation in online learning. 

Mobile is an incredibly powerful tool ensuring flexibility in learning. 41 per cent of women learners in Singapore access Coursera on mobile devices, as compared to 38 per cent men. Other factors contributing to enrolment increases from women include adding practice quizzes before challenging assessments, listing most common mistakes for peer-reviewed assignments and distributing assessments throughout a course. 

“I earned my computer science degree with only a handful of women alongside me, and while a great deal has changed since then, we still have important work to do to increase women’s representation in technology and leadership,” said Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera.

“Access to flexible, job-relevant education can help women learn the new skills they need to enter high-demand roles and achieve better gender balance in the workforce.”