Employers struggle to fill IT and data science positions, Upwork survey finds


Diving brief:

  • Companies want to hire, but struggle to find talent, according to a survey by Upwork, published Aug. 25. Of the 1,000 U.S. hiring managers who responded, seven in 10 plan to hire in the next six months, but 60% say it’s hard to find talent to fill specific positions.
  • Job categories that hiring managers need to fill urgently include: accounting (33%), IT and networking (30%), and operations (29%). More than half (52%) of respondents said customer service will be a top job they will be looking to fill in the next six months.
  • Nearly two-thirds (60%) of hiring managers said data science and analytics roles will be the most difficult to fill, followed by architecture and engineering (58%) and IT and software. networks (58%).

Overview of the dive:

As companies face talent shortages and move away from traditional work environments, Upwork, a freelance work platform, has reported increased interest in using independent contractors. It’s not alone: ​​In November 2020, GigSmart, a mobile recruiting app, reported a 460% increase in gig time views since the pandemic lockdown began nine months earlier.

Many of the placements were in construction, restaurants and warehouses. But the demand for contract workers also included people with skills in programming, coding, web design and social media development, according to a May 2020 report from Freelancer.com.

2021 saw more interest: 50% of freelance professionals in the United States saw an increase in demand for their services compared to 2020, according to a May 2022 report from Fiverr, a global online marketplace for independent services. Freelancers providing technical services (61%) were the most likely to face increased demand, compared to professional services (46%) and creative services (23%), according to the report.

Companies Driving Demand Seem Satisfied: 85% of recruiters in the Upwork survey who hire freelancers say working with freelance professionals gives them access to talent with specialized skills, according to the results.

Despite this advantage, strategies that rely on independent contractors may raise some concerns. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the more than 4,000 business leaders who responded to a survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte said effectively managing external contributors was critical to success. Yet only 30% said their organizations were ready to do so.

A key component is workplace technology. Companies should have technology strategies in place to deal with the new realities of remote working, a Citrix marketing executive previously told HR Dive. Retention is another concern. An April report from PRO Unlimited found that more than half of casual workers who ended their assignment early did so within the first two months.


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