The Freelance Economy is a Barometer for How Demand for Skills are Changing

The world is fast progressing towards businesses operating and developing new products and services using a balance of full-time and freelance labor. We used to begrudgingly hire a freelancer to help out once in a while but the stigma behind that is disappearing and businesses no longer have access to the best resources through the full-time market.

Each quarter, the world’s largest online resourcing and freelancing platform,, investigates the biggest trends in demand for over 750 skills and uses the insights as a barometer for the changing tide of what kinds of work are being done using the platform.

In Q1 this year, their Data Scientists reviewed a record 322,284 good jobs (a 7.2% growth since Q4, 2014) and identified some overarching trends. We look at these and, more specifically, how this is changing in our 250,000+ strong Canadian user base by looking at job specifically posted from Canadian employers on the platform as well.


Apple Gaining Ground on Android

Mobile is more important than ever and there seems to be nothing stopping the creation of new applications. Globally, there have been nearly 45,000 mobile-related jobs posted in the last quarter alone. iPhone jobs are gaining pace (up 17.7% at 12,246 jobs) however Android is still maintaining the lead in terms of number of jobs but with slightly less growth (up 14.3% at 14,831 jobs).

In Canada we are seeing the result of a strong mobile heritage with 1,531 mobile development jobs posted. iPhone projects are tearing ahead with 30% growth, up to 441 jobs, quarter-on-quarter and android is just ahead at 453 jobs but behind in growth at just 25%. We expect the Apple Watch and more businesses focusing on iPhone/iPad apps to start to streak ahead of Android.

Mobile is becoming a more diverse space with the launch of the Apple Watch, and Internet of Things developers helping connect the home, the workplace and locations. In fact, these skills are in abundance in Canada and we think that many Canadian entrepreneurs and developers will increase demand for people with these skills generally.


Marketers Losing Faith in Facebook, Twitter

Marketers have to make some choices on what activities they undertake on social and on what platforms. We are starting to see the effects of Facebook’s algorithm change really affecting marketers who used to spend time on the platform to drive organic reach and build relationships. Globally, Facebook Marketing has declined by -2% (down to 8,468 jobs). In Canada, Facebook Marketing has not declined (it’s up 2%) but on the whole it looks like Canadian marketers very smartly have moved on with only 283 jobs this quarter.

Overall, Facebook are seeing fewer ads being posted and are hiking the prices for those that are to compensate. This is driving more people away every day and industry analysts, Forrester Research, are urging marketers to think differently, “Stop making Facebook the center of your relationship marketing efforts,” and boost your own capabilities, “Add social relationship tools to your own site” as people are just as likely to interact with your site and signup via email, where you can have a direct relationship.

We are seeing Twitter struggle the most (only 0.7% growth at 3,766 jobs). This is likely affected by the amount of fake accounts, high levels of spam (recent reports have said that this is more than 10%) and recent news about poor spam management. Twitter itself has said its average number of monthly users fell by 4 million in the final three months of 2014, to 288 million, and marketers are paying close attention to developments there. Canadians are fleeing from Twitter, down to only 138 jobs, which is -7%, decline this quarter.

To address the fall of engagement on these platforms we are seeing marketers focusing in on great content to help drive organic reach. There is much more diversity being demanded by Google and other search engines so longer-form content is growing significantly. Globally, eBooks (up 43% to 1,943 jobs), Creative Writing (up 41% to 1,877 jobs), Content Writing (up nearly 26% to 7650 jobs) and Ghostwriting (up 23% to 8,514 jobs) are all still growing at a rapid pace.

Canadian employers are not stepping up as quickly as they should with Creative Writing at only 96 jobs (up 13%), Content Writing is at 282 jobs (up 17%), and Ghostwriting is also up to 379 jobs (up 25%). eBooks has not really taken off yet but we expect that to change in the upcoming year.

We are seeing that Copywriting, for emails, campaigns and websites, has risen sharply in Canada, up to 482 jobs and a 27% growth, showing that a balance between practical copy to drive actions and longer, more engaging copy is needed now more than ever. Globally copywriting is also up to 10,418 jobs (up 15%).


Advanced Projects, Virtual Reality, Wearables and the Internet of Things

We are seeing even more innovative thinkers than ever hiring freelancers with deep expertise, across a number of advanced areas including, Renewable Energy Design, Quantum Physics, Face Recognition, Drones, Pattern Matching, Machine Learning, Cryptography, and Nanotechnology. We are also preparing for the future of engagement by adding specific skills for Freelancers that specialize in Virtual Reality (Oculus Mobile SDK, Google Cardboard, Magic Leap, 360-degree video), Internet of Things (various protocols – MQTT, XMPP, DDS, AMQP) and Wearables (Android Wear SDK, Samsung Accessory SDK, iBeacon, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Tizen SDK for Wearables, Leap Motion SDK, and Apple’s WatchKit).

Canadian innovators are leading the world in all of these areas and more product-based companies, consultancies and design agencies in this field. In Vancouver, a leading agency called HUMAN that is focused on product & experience intelligence, has even stated that using freelancers is core to its model. This is one way to operate in a lean way and scale as new business is secured.

Globally things are growing in the freelance economy and more businesses are looking online for the best resources to help out. We’re excited to see how Canadian employers adjust to meet this great opportunity to take action and execute on their great business ideas.