The market for freelancers is seeing a surge as employers seek freelance professionals to fill talent gaps, according to freelancer platform Upwork.
Upwork’s latest Freelance Forward Economist report found that the share of American workers who classify themselves as permanent freelancers fell from 33.8% in 2020 to 35% in 2021.
More and more freelancers agree to work in skilled professions like computer programming, IT, marketing and business consulting, rising from 50% in 2020 to 53% in 2021.
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The skills with the highest year-over-year growth in demand on the Upwork platform were web programming (43%), web design (31%) and social media marketing (25%) .
The shift in the type of work freelancers do comes as companies struggle to find full-time staff in a highly competitive hiring market, Upwork said.
Digital transformation is bringing new technical demands on businesses struggling to stay competitive, while full-time employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers, making it even more difficult to find and retain qualified staff.
Companies hiring for tech and IT roles are feeling the pinch, increasing the demand for freelancers with web and programming expertise.
The 10 most in-demand tech and digital skills on the Upwork platform:
- creation of websites
- Web programming
- Graphic design
Upwork said freelancers who can provide these skills will play a “critical role… in closing talent gaps and solving the most pressing business needs in 2022.”
Margaret Lilani, Vice President of Talent Solutions at Upwork, said: “Our data indicates that not only is there huge demand for a wide range of professional skills, but companies large and small are also changing their approach to access talent and look to freelancers to fill critical skills gaps.”
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Skills data is from the Upwork database and is based on gross service volume from January 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021.
Each skill had a minimum of 500 projects posted during the period. Year-over-year growth was estimated by comparing gross service volume in 2021 to gross service volume during the same period in 2020.
Data from KPMG and REC earlier in January 2022 also indicated a change in the hiring habits of UK employers.
Specifically, he found that while IT and IT roles continue to lead the growth in permanent and temporary job vacancies, demand begins to slow. KPMG and REC said the data suggested companies were in shock over their hiring and were turning more of their attention to upskilling and reskilling existing staff to fill talent gaps.