New data reveals that in a competitive and fast-changing labour market, UK employers increasingly expect their entry-level talent to join their workforce already equipped with job-relevant skills and hands-on experience.

At the same time, university-age students and their parents are thinking more critically about the ROI of traditional three and four-year degree programs: most notably, whether students will secure a job after graduation.

The findings from one of the world’s largest online learning platforms, Coursera, reveal that 80 percent of UK employers say they now look beyond traditional education, to job-relevant skills on candidates’ CVs to check they are equipped for a role.

In response to employers’ shifting attitudes, 87 percent of UK students and recent graduates agree that competing entry-level skills certifications from companies like Google and Meta, alongside their traditional degree, will help them land a job in 2023, and 77 percent of students agree that a Professional Certificate (or Microcredential) will help them succeed at their job.

Will skills certifications become as valued as traditional degrees?

In light of these findings, qualifications from the likes of Google, IBM, Meta, and Intuit and others have seen an increase in enrollments on Coursera in 2022. These entry-level professional certificates as well as applied skills training create job-ready students while simultaneously building more resilient higher education institutions.

In fact, according to Coursera, six out of its top ten most popular online courses in 2022 were professional certifications from the likes of Google, as 70 percent of UK consumers say they believe skills certifications from technology companies like Google and Meta will be just as valued by certain employers as traditional degrees in the next five years.

Hadi Moussa, VP EMEA at Coursera, said: 

“As the UK labour market tightens, employers have shown signs that they are more reliant on candidates having the right skill-set for the job than ever before. This isn’t to say that the traditional degree is no longer valued by employers, but that savvy students and graduates recognise that a combination of a traditional degree, and a Professional Certificate/ Microcredential will prepare them for the world of work.

This presents an opportunity for universities and employers alike. By linking skills-based learning to skills-based hiring, higher education institutions can fill gaps in their curricula and build a bridge between their degree programs and the demands of today’s employers. At the same time, employers can diversify their hiring pipelines while being assured that their new hires are job-ready.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.