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Upwork releases Q3 2018 Skills Index, ranking the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers

The Top 10 fastest-growing skills are new to the index; 75% of the Top 20 are new

Skills related to biotech; software development; and mixed reality experienced high growth

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - November 13, 2018 -Upwork (NASDAQ: UPWK), the largest freelancing website, today released its newest quarterly index of the hottest skills in the U.S. freelance job market. The Upwork Skills Index ranks the site’s 20 fastest-growing skills in a quarterly series. It sheds light on new and emerging skills and provides real-time validation of current trends in the labor market and tech industry. According to a new study, 56.7 million Americans (35% of the U.S. workforce) are freelancing and doing an average of one billion hours of freelance work per week.“The pace of innovation is accelerating, and so are the skills necessary to support it,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the New Social Contract. “Many in-demand skills today did not even exist five years ago but businesses are finding the talent they need by hiring freelancers, who recognize that we’re shifting towards a skills-first world. Freelancers are twice as likely as traditional employees to reskill themselves as a result.”The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q3 2018 experienced more than 115 percent year-over-year growth, while demand for the top 10 skills grew more than 400 percent year-over-year.

The top 20 fastest-growing skills, Q3 2018:

  1. Dropbox API
  2. Equity research
  3. Molecular biology
  4. iPhone UI design
  5. Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  6. Genetic algorithms
  7. Vue.js framework
  8. Kubernetes
  9. Social customer service
  10. HR consulting
  11. Google Cloud Platform
  12. Oculus Rift
  13. Microsoft Power BI
  14. Proposal writing
  15. Vuforia
  16. Instructional design
  17. Lesson plan writing
  18. Google App Engine API
  19. React.js framework
  20. TensorFlow

Key Insights:

Dropbox advances cloud storage and collaboration with APIDropbox recently published a guide on getting started with the Dropbox API (#1), which was the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills freelancers provide on Upwork.com. Businesses are seeking out developers who can leverage the API to manage and control their content programmatically -- from security, compliance and administration solutions to the development of new apps. According to Dropbox’s initial public offering (IPO) filing, the company was receiving more than 50 billion API calls per month, and more than 500,000 developers had registered and built applications on their platform as of December 31, 2017.Investment in public cloud services and infrastructure is increasing

Gartner predicts that more than a quarter (28%) of spending within key enterprise IT markets will be cloud-based by 2022. As this shift takes place and businesses look for greater flexibility and agility, they’re in need of solutions that support multiple environments. Catering to these companies, Google announced a new platform, which offers an integrated set of cloud services that can be deployed on the Google Cloud Platform (#11) as well as in on-premise environments.

Kubernetes (#8), which lets you run and manage applications in hybrid environments, is one of the services at the core of this offering and saw high growth in Q3, too, along with Google App Engine API (#18), which lets you deploy your app in any environment.User experience remains a top focus for global companiesPeople today have two times more interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else so businesses’ ability to deliver engaging and unique user experiences through mobile is more important than ever. In particular, iOS’s market share surged by 5.9 percent from June 2017 to June 2018, and iPhone UI design (#4) specialists were in high-demand last quarter as a result. JavaScript frameworks for building user interfaces, including Vue.js (#7) and React.js (#19), also experienced high-growth in Q3.Mixed reality is going mainstreamFrom augmented reality (AR) to virtual reality (VR), businesses are connecting with customers by creating new experiences using immersive technology. In October 2017, Oculus launched Oculus for Business, a new, professional Oculus Rift (#11) bundle designed to boost productivity and accelerating trainings. Businesses such as Audi, DHL and Cisco are leading the way, and experts familiar with the technology are being sought after as more companies explore how to leverage this new technology.

Vuforia (#15), a software development kit (SDK) for augmented reality, also appeared on the list for the first time following a forecast from Market Research Future that the global mobile AR market is expected to grow $70 billion by 2023.Marketers increasingly put customers front and centerCustomer-centric marketing skills made an appearance on this quarter’s list, highlighting the importance of having a customer-first mindset. Salesforce Marketing Cloud (#5), a platform designed to help understand consumers, personalize their experience and engage them across channels, was in high-demand in Q3 as businesses put a greater emphasis on connecting with customers in meaningful ways.

Social customer service (#9) also saw soaring demand. "Customer service used to be through closed mediums like phone and email with little visibility of opportunity for virality,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO of Sprout Social. “However, with 47% of people using social media for customer service, the risk and reward of social customer care has never been higher. Therefore, businesses have a responsibility to hire people behind the handles that rise to the challenge and deliver attentive, responsible and thoughtful connections with their customers."Lifelong learning creates demand in training and developmentElearning has emerged as a popular technique for learning new skills and concepts, and it’s predicted that the global learning management system (LMS) market will be valued at 19.05 billion dollars by 2020. As the half life of skills decreases and technology rapidly evolves, professionals are embracing the idea of lifelong learning and proactively updating their skills to remain employable. Instructional design (#16) and lesson plan writing (#17) both saw high-demand in Q3 as businesses enlist freelance specialists to create strategies and solutions that provide training.

Deep learning spurs growth in genetic algorithms Deep learning continuously helps advance the limits and capabilities of major industrial applications. One problem that prevents more widespread adoption is the complexity and cost of training deep neural network models. The conventional strategy is to use back-propagation, which is based on the idea of evaluating a model configuration against the targeted objective and then to propagate the lessons learned back to all of the network layers to obtain a better configuration.

Inspired by operators involved in the process of natural selection, such as mutation and crossover, genetic algorithms (#6) present a strong alternative to back-propagation. They help to derive a “best” configuration as well as solving the problem of “hyper-parameter” selection, which reduces the training cost and level of expertise required to apply deep learning.

Relevant Course List

Seventy percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months, compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers. In addition, freelancers are placing a greater emphasis on skills training than education -- 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree said training was useful versus only 79 percent who said their college education was useful to the work they do now.Here is a list of relevant online courses from online learning platforms Coursera, Udemy and PluralSight for the top 20 fastest-growing skills on Upwork in Q3 2018:

  1. Dropbox API: Cloud Computing Applications, Part 1: Cloud Systems and Infrastructure
  2. Equity research: Financial Modeling and Equity Research Hands-on
  3. Molecular biology: Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization
  4. iPhone UI design: Best Practices for iOS User Interface Design
  5. Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Content Builder Essentials for the Digital Marketer  (Salesforce)
  6. Genetic algorithms: Optimizing experimental designs with genetic algorithms
  7. Vue.js framework: Vue.js: Getting Started
  8. Kubernetes: Getting Started with Google Kubernetes Engine
  9. Social customer service: Social Media Marketing Specialization
  10. HR consulting: The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs
  11. Google Cloud Platform: Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure
  12. Oculus Rift: Beginner VR Oculus Rift Development
  13. Microsoft Power BI: Microsoft Power BI - A Complete Introduction (Microsoft Virtual Academy)
  14. Proposal writing: Successful Proposal Writing Training Course For All Careers
  15. Vuforia: Build 12 Augmented Reality (AR) apps with Unity & Vuforia
  16. Instructional design: Instructional Design Foundations and Applications
  17. Lesson plan writing: Lesson Planning for Teachers: Steps to Success
  18. Google App Engine API: Choosing and Implementing Google Cloud Compute Engine Solutions
  19. React.js framework: React.js: Getting Started
  20. TensorFlow: TensorFlow: Getting Started

The Upwork Skills Index calculates year-over-year growth rates based on freelancer billings through Upwork in Q3 2018 versus Q3 2017. The next quarterly Upwork Skills Index will be released winter 2018.

About Upwork

Upwork is the largest freelancing website. It enables businesses to find and work with highly skilled freelancers. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work — like software, shopping and content before it — is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Our company’s mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives.Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit our website at www.upwork.com, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Christina Schultz