Stephane Kasriel

Blockchain, machine learning top fastest growing skill list

Blockchain, Bitcoin knowledge and machine learning are among the hottest skills freelancers can possess, the latest quarterly Upwork Skills Index reveals.

After robotics, blockchain and Bitcoin are the next two fastest growing skills on the list. All 20 saw year-over-year growth in excess of 100 per cent, while the top 10 grew more than 200 per cent.

Stephane Kasriel

“Freelancers realize how quickly the skills needed are evolving and are the most proactive members of the workforce, reskilling much more frequently than traditional employees,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work. “Because of this, they will play a major role in guiding the future of work — something we all have a responsibility to do.”

The top 20 fastest-growing skills, Q3 2017:

  • Robotics
  • Blockchain
  • Bitcoin
  • Penetration testing
  • React.js
  • Amazon Web Services Lambda
  • Augmented reality
  • Deep learning
  • Instagram marketing
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Swift development
  • AngularJS development
  • Salesforce
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Natural language processing
  • HubSpot marketing
  • Machine learning
  • Objective-C development
  • Learning Management System (LMS)
  • jQuery development


  • IDC predicts that worldwide spending on robotics and related services will more than double by 2020, growing from $91.5 billion in 2016 to more than $188 billion.
  • Blockchain and Bitcoin both appeared on the Top 20 list for the first time.
  • According to the 2017 U.S. State of Cybercrime survey, 36 per cent of businesses say they were impacted by a phishing attack last year, up from 26 per cent the previous year. As a result, experts in penetration testing and vulnerability assessment are in high-demand as companies hire specialists to either test a specific issue or assess their business’s overall security.
  • Augmented reality has seen breakthroughs as companies introduce innovations such as Facebook’s ($FB) Camera Effects Platform, Apple’s ($AAPL) ARKit and Google’s ($GOOGL) ARCore. AR earned itself a spot on Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologiesdue to its huge potential impact, and Gartner suggests that “Enterprises should create an AR strategy in the business with specific goals and tasks for trials and benchmarks.”
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) has also already had a huge impact on the world of work, from AI-powered algorithms that recommend optimal routes to maximize Lyft and Uber drivers’ earnings; to machine learning systems that help optimize lists of customer leads so salespeople can be more effective.
  • A handful of tech giants recently formed an AI research-and-policy organization called “Partnership on AI” to study AI’s impact on jobs and society. As businesses look to incorporate these new technologies into their business strategies, AI-related skills such as deep learning, natural language processing and machine learning appear on this quarter’s list.
  • Salesforce saw increased demand for its expanded ‘Marketing Cloud’ services; and HubSpot marketing, benefitting from companies surging investment in content marketing, also appeared in the Top 20.
  • Instagram marketing, which eMarketer estimates will bring in more than $3 billion in U.S. ad revenues this year, and Final Cut Pro X, a professional video editing app from Apple that recently hit two million users, both saw soaring demand as marketers continued to invest in social media and customer storytelling.

According to “Freelancing in America: 2017”, the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. independent workforce, which found that 57.3 million Americans (36 per cent of the U.S. workforce) freelanced in the past year. They predict the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance within a decade.

Like this article? Take a second to support us on Patreon!