Perhaps unfairly, the UK's 2million freelancers and contractors have grown used to periods of uncertainty in recent months. The relentless and ongoing talk of Brexit, last week's Budget which headlined with what can only be described as an attack on the self-employed, along with imminent changes to IR35 in the public sector has set the tone for a rocky start to 2017 for the UK's independent workforce.
But while freelancer's and contractor's confidence in the economy and the Government has predictably and understandably wained over the past 12 months, the self-employed remain surprisingly positive - albeit only just - about their business prospects, as IPSE's Freelancer Confidence Index revealed late last year.
As the world of work evolves, self-employment continues to grow year-on-year in terms of size and influence - regardless of business and economic uncertainty. That, combined with the UK's ongoing skills crisis - which led 63% of senior HR professionals to confidently predict an increase in demand for independent workers over the next two years - signals that freelancers and contractors look set to play a fundamental role in the future of work.
So if you're in the market for a new contract this year, here's a quick breakdown of 2017's most in-demand freelancer and contractor skills, gathered and released by LinkedIn:
10. Data Engineering and Data Warehousing
The practice of engineering computing systems and software, along with collecting information through the analysis of data.
09. Data Presentation
Summarising, organising and presenting information or 'data' in different forms, whether that's through charts, text, graphics or diagrams.
08. Network and Information Security
Skills used to strengthen security networks and prevent the hacking and misuse of data and information.
07. SEO / SEM Marketing
Search-engine optimisation or search-engine marketing promotes websites by increasing search-engine rankings through paid advertising or keywords.
06. Perl / Python / Ruby
Each variations of increasingly popular programming languages, used to build and design web applications.
05. Mobile Development
Mobile app development is on the rise, and the skills needed to build applications and software for mobile devices are a growing demand.
04. Web Architecture and Development Framework
The ability to create technical specifications for the framework, build and design of websites.
03. HR Benefits and Compensation
The only 'non techy' skill in the list, HR Benefits and Compensation skills are in-demand, and assist companies with decisions around employee pay and policy-making.
02. Middleware and Integration Software
Put simply, being able to 'glue together' complex and existing software and programs to help them run together smoothly.
01. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
The ability to carve through large sets of data and highlight patterns, trends and regularities to build smarter programmes and artificial intelligence.
Have an opinion on any emerging or in-demand skills? Kick-off or join the conversation below...