The fastest growing freelancer skills in 2019

Upwork, the largest freelancing website in the world, has released the Upwork Skills Index for the first quarter of 2019.
Freelance workers
75 percent of the top 20 fastest growing skills in freelancing are relatively new to the market, according to Upwork. Collectively, these skills enjoyed a 170 percent year-on-year growth while the demand for the top 10 skills grew by an annual rate of 370 percent.
As around 50 percent of the US workforce will become freelance by 2023, it’s important to note the skills you should invest in as the markets can shift without warning. Understanding these trends will give you a competitive advantage in this rapidly tightening labor market.

Tech leads the way

15 out of 20 of the top growing skills directly relate to emerging technologies while the other five leverage tech tools and expertise. Niche technologies continue to dominate the list every quarter as almost all industries turn to tech to streamline growth.

In their 2019 hiring trends report, Fast Company predicts that tech related professions will continue to dominate and even more jobs will shift towards tech. An annexed survey revealed that 69 percent of employers consider every job as “tech jobs”, signifying increased pressure on the tech labor market. While many fear that the rise of AI and the IoT will eliminate jobs, it will in fact do the opposite.

A post by Yoss entitled ‘AI and the Future of Work’ notes how about 38 percent of jobs will be amplified by AI, and in many instances it will even create more career opportunities, especially in the freelance tech market. Given this, freelancers need to be able to integrate these burgeoning tech skills into their repertoire in order to stay relevant. Many of these skills are needed to create cutting-edge innovations, which are crucial for businesses to survive in this tech-driven landscape.

Marketing and real estate as spaces for growth

On the Upwork list, the rise of eCommerce tools Magento, Salesforce, and Shopify (#13, #9, #15) shows that marketers are investing heavily in customer relations and digital marketing. While most of the UI software that dominated last quarter’s list are gone, vue.js framework (#17) remained as it’s more versatile and niche. Other top growing skills denote marketers exploring more channels for customer acquisition like explainer videos (#4) and podcasting (#20).

A resurgence in the demand for financial skills

JP Morgan has predicted that another financial crisis will happen in 2020. And this looming economic crisis is one of the drivers for this renewed upturn in demand for financial planners (#6). The increasing market share of alternative lending platforms is also one of the key factors in this resurgence. Last year alone, P2P lending and microlending platforms tripled their acceptance rate and have also cut their processing times in half.

Coupled with the 2018 tax reform, this also spurred a demand for certified public accountants (#16) and US taxation experts (#1). As economic uncertainty hits closer to home over the next few quarters, the demand for freelance financial experts and financial litigation experts will continue to rise.

Streamlining and automation still rising

Businesses are now integrating automation into their workflow as the rise in demand for robot process automation (#3) suggests. Computer aided manufacturing was catapulted to fifth place as more industries look to deploy Autodesk, Siemens, and 3D systems into their businesses.

Leveraging talent development and organizational development remain on trend as leadership development (#18) and employee training (#14) are still on the fastest growing skills list this quarter. As labor markets become more competitive, companies will be prompted to invest in their talents more aggressively.

As the freelance economy continues to grow, initiatives like the Digital Industry Singapore will become the norm, as international labor markets strive to get a share.

Rajani Baburajan

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