According to Upwork’s latest quarterly index, more than 56 million Americans are currently performing work on a freelance basis. This represents approximately 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. Every week, as many as one billion hours of work are performed by freelancers. The latest index highlights the fastest growing segments of freelance work. It includes the 20 hottest skills, half of which were not even on last year’s list. The index also provides information regarding new and emerging skills as well as labor market trends, particularly in the tech industry. The index is published each quarter.
The Pace of Innovation
The CEO of Upwork, Stephane Kasriel, says that the reason so many new skills are in high demand is due to the accelerating pace of innovation. Many of the new skills needed did not exist as little as five years ago. In order to find qualified employees, businesses are increasingly dependent on freelancers. In this new wave of hiring, skills are the dominant human resource. According to Kasriel, freelancers are twice as likely as traditional employees to re-skill themselves.
In the third quarter of 2018, the 20 fastest-growing freelance skills saw a year-over-year increase of more than 115 percent. Even more striking is the fact that there was a 400 percent increase in demand for the top 10 skills. Of the 20 fastest-growing skills, Dropbox API was number one. More than half a billion developers have built applications on Dropbox’s platform. Businesses are interested in hiring developers who have the ability to leverage the Dropbox API for the purpose of programmatically managing and controlling their content all the way from security and compliance to the development of new apps.
Cloud services and investments in infrastructure continue to increase as well. By 2022, it is predicted that almost 30 percent of key enterprise IT spending will be cloud-based. Businesses are looking for greater flexibility and multi-environment support. As a result, Google has announced new platforms, which integrate cloud and on-premise services in a hybrid environment. This includes Google Cloud Platform, Kubernetes and Google App Engine API.
Businesses are increasingly using immersive technology, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), to engage customers. Oculus for Business is designed to accelerate training and boost productivity. Experts are being sought by such companies as Cisco, DHL and Audi who know how to leverage the new technology. One forecast suggests that the global mobile AR market will grow as much as $70 billion by the year 2024.
Customer Concentric Marketing
One of the skills coming to the forefront in this year’s index is customer concentric marketing. This reflects the current customer-first mindset that many businesses have adopted. For instance, Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a platform designed to help marketers understand their customers and personalize their experiences. Social customer service is also seeing a huge increase in demand. Because of this, businesses are hiring freelancers who have the ability to connect with customers in a way that is considered to be thoughtful as well as responsible.
More and more people are realizing that it is never too late to learn. Because of this mindset, eLearning has become very popular. It is predicted that this market will reach a value of more than $19 billion by 2020. As technology continues to evolve, professionals must update their skills. This has created a huge demand for lesson plan writing and instructional design.
Although deep learning is held back by its complexity, it continues to push the limits of major industrial applications. Rather than using the conventional strategy of back-propagation, genetic algorithms provide a strong alternative. Such algorithms solve the problem of “hyper-parameter” selection while deriving a “best” configuration. Such an approach reduces the level of expertise that is typically required in applying deep learning.
Upwork is generally regarded as the world’s largest freelancing website. It trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol UPWK having recently gone public. Millions of jobs are posted on Upwork every year, and freelancers have an opportunity to earn money by providing any one of the 5,000 skills that companies are looking for. Upwork was started more than a decade ago by a Silicon Valley tech lead and his friend who was in Athens at the time. Its purpose was to bring trust and visibility to remote work.