Coursera Insights: Freelance Skill Needs Are Evolving

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Posted By Goprogs Blog

What are the most important job skills predicted for 2023? In this article, we share a recent overview of critical job skills at Coursera.

The Job Skills of 2023 report, which examines the fastest-growing digital and human skills identified by Coursera entering this year.

The report draws on data from Coursera’s four million corporate students from 3,000 businesses, 3,600 higher education institutions and governments in more than 100 countries.

Coursera Report

Coursera’s annual report is characteristically concise, insightful, but not specifically aimed at freelancers. So after each category of rapid growth, the article adds specific comments about how those trends affect freelancers.

The fastest growing skills are digital skills.

The top ten fastest growing skills overall are digital skills.


The continued evolution of technology means that employers are regularly looking for new digital skills from potential employees while reskilling existing workers.

What this means for freelancers. Upwork’s Tim Sanders insightfully points out that business leaders who recognize the power of digital transformation (DT) are usually strong advocates for open talent.

And why not? They see the potential to create a flexible, blended workforce unconstrained by legacy challenges: they want access to the right people at the right time for their critical projects.

As Sanders said, they are the leaders of a new tribalism: they see a cloud of human talent that allows them to build their own team from the best available talent from around the world.

While these leaders are committed to the continuous development of their own full-time workforce, they understand that the ability to scale and navigate resources depends on a smart mix of internal resources and freelance experts.

Fastest-growing digital skills are changing more than fastest-growing human skills.

The top ten digital skills are significantly different from last year—only two have carried over year-over-year: data visualization and user experience.

Demand for people skills remains more stable, indicating evergreen demand for skills such as change management and communication.

Implications for freelancers. In the 2021 Global Survey on Freelancing, freelancers identified their top five skill gaps:

(1) Networking.

(2) Risk-taking.

(3) Sensitivity to how others perceived them.

(4) Persuasiveness

(5) Entrepreneurial ability connection.

These are all key skills for freelance business success, beyond technical or domain knowledge.

They require practice and discipline, and an understanding that these skills combined are vitally important to independent professionals.

Remember: experts win the project for their technical skills and reputation, but they maintain and expand the work on the quality of their working relationships.

User experience skills are on the rise.

As digitization accelerates across all industries, user experience skills are in high demand as consumers expect their needs to be met quickly, efficiently and in a user-friendly manner.

Skills related to customer success tools and user experience design have seen increased interest.
At a time when global macroeconomic challenges are intensifying – driven by international conflicts.

High inflation and an uncertain economic outlook – skills development will be critical to strengthening the labor market.

Global research by Deloitte found that skills-based organizations are 107% more likely to place talent effectively, 98% more likely to retain high performers, and 57% more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively and efficiently.

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