Advising Today's Business

The Future of Employment

Upwork, a freelance resource for businesses, release its latest Skills Index, and the top 20 are all new

August 14, 2019 — SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Upwork, 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 report, nearly half (48%) of hiring managers agree that the increased specialization of skills is disrupting their business.

“In booming cities like Boston, Denver, San Francisco and San Jose, the unemployment rate has fallen below three percent, which makes finding qualified and highly-specialized talent more challenging than ever before,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the New Social Contract. “As a result, for more and more skills, businesses are relying on nontraditional talent sources to effectively engage the best workers, no matter where they live.”

The 20 fastest-growing skills on in Q2 2019 experienced more than 120 percent year-over-year growth, while demand for the top 10 skills grew more than 400 percent year-over-year.

Key Insights

ServiceNow (#1), a digital workflow company that simplifies the complexity of work with an enterprise cloud platform, was the fastest-growing skill in Q2 out of more than 5,000 available on Its growth reinforces that digital transformation is a real and strategic imperative for businesses as developers who can build integrations for the platform are in high-demand. Experts familiar with Microsoft Azure (#20), a set of cloud services that allow you to build, manage and deploy apps on a global network, were also highly sought after as companies seek professionals who can design solutions that run on Azure. This further underscores that C-Suite leaders are embracing cloud-based platforms as a critical component of their strategy.

Big data, big data, big data

As the volume of data grows exponentially and becomes more complex, businesses are investing more in solutions that help ingest, store and analyze it in order to optimize how they derive meaningful insights that inform business decisions. Forty-four percent of CIOs cite big data and analytics as the most scarce tech skill, according to a recent survey by Harvey Nash Inc.; as a result, experts familiar with relational databases (#14), which structure data in a way that helps recognize how different data points or sets are related to each other, were in high-demand in Q2, along with neo4j (#11), a graph database that helps developers harness connected data and simply express complex systems. By 2022, IDC expects worldwide big data and business analytics (BDA) will be a $274.3 billion industry. Data visualization skills also made the list with Highcharts (#4), d3.js framework (#15) and MATLAB (#17) all appearing on the Index for the first time.

Video content boosts customer engagement

Eighty-seven percent of online marketers use video content; with video being one of the most effective methods of engagement, both DaVinci Resolve (#2), a video-editing application, and motion graphics (#16) saw an uptick in demand as companies hire specialists to create compelling video content. Social video marketing (#3) also appeared on the list, showcasing demand for experts who can develop social media marketing strategies that leverage video to increase customer engagement with a brand. Consumer-generated video content such as unboxing videos are also becoming more popular as consumers showcase the products they love, accounting for growth in packaging design (#18), part of a growing $900 billion market, highlighting brands’ increased emphasis on aesthetics.

In booming cities like Boston, Denver, San Francisco and San Jose, the unemployment rate has fallen below three percent, which makes finding qualified and highly-specialized talent more challenging than ever before...

Open-source artificial intelligence (AI) solutions spur growth

A growing number of organizations have strong feelings that AI will be essential for our future, according to a recent study by Deloitte Insights. As businesses invest more in AI, they’re increasingly relying on independent talent to explore its applications and use cases. PyTorch (#5), an open source deep learning platform that provides a path from research prototyping to production deployment, appeared on the list for the first time, as did Keras (#6), an API used to build and train deep learning models.

Low-code development solutions gain popularity

Mobile apps are projected to have the most impact on business success by 2020, according to a new report by Gartner. Enterprises looking to build apps that allow them to connect with customers in meaningful ways are hiring specialists familiar with low-code software solutions, including Salesforce Lightning (#13), which allows you to quickly build apps with intuitive, out-of-the-box tools, and Caspio (#7), a platform for building online database applications without coding. Both skills experienced significant growth in Q2 as low-code development maintains popularity for its ability to democratize app development. Kendo UI (#9), a collection of JavaScript user interface components used to build eye-catching web apps, also saw soaring demand in Q2, underscoring its favorability among developers.

Tech talent shortage impacts approaches to hiring, L&D

Hiring has become harder, and access to skills and talent scarcity are the biggest hiring challenges, according to a new report. As a result, businesses are leveraging independent professionals adept in technical recruiting (#10) to source talent. Organizations are also doubling down on learning and development, and a greater desire to train workers spurred demand for LearnDash (#8), a WordPress Learning Management System (LMS) plug-in that developers can use to build LMS systems.

Relevant Course List

According to a recent report, younger generations are more than twice as likely than Baby Boomers to have increased their usage of freelancers in the past three years and are projected to continue increasing their usage in 2019. At the same time, a study shows freelancers are more proactively updating their skills to remain marketable as the workforce evolves compared to non-freelancers with 70 percent of full-time freelancers participating in skills training in the past six months compared to 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers.

The top 20 fastest-growing skills, Q2 2019:


DaVinci Resolve

Social video marketing






Kendo UI

Technical recruiter


Statistical modeling

Salesforce Lightning

Relational databases


Motion graphics


Packaging design


Microsoft Azure




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 Santa Clara, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit our website at, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.