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Computer-Aided Manufacturing

Upwork Ranks CAM, Architectural Rendering Among Top 20 Fastest-Growing Freelancer Skills

29 Jun, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff

Geographically dispersed teams and efforts to optimize manufacturing processes are helping drive demand for computer-aided manufacturing and urban design skills.


Upwork, an online freelancing hub that helps contract workers and hiring companies connect, prepares an index each quarter to rank the top 20 fastest-growing skills in the U.S. freelance job market. The company calculates year-over-year growth rates based on freelancer billings through Upwork versus the previous quarter. According to Upwork’s latest Skills Index, released last month, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is the fifth fastest-growing skill. In addition, multiple skills related to urban planning and city design, including urban design, geospatial, and architectural rendering, all made the top 20.

Three-quarters of the skills on this list were new to the index in Q1 2019 — turnover that points to a turbulent, rapidly changing employment and technology landscape. According to Upwork, the 20 fastest-growing freelance skills in Q1 2019 experienced more than 170% year-over-year growth, while demand for the top 10 skills grew more than 370% year-over-year.

And why are the CAM skills in particular climbing so rapidly? Upwork’s view is that machinists, designers, programmers, and engineers with others with CAM skills are in high demand “as enterprises aim to deploy CAM solutions by Autodesk, Siemens, [and] 3D Systems, among others, to make their overall manufacturing processes more efficient and effective.”

While the goal of optimizing manufacturing processes isn’t new, more enterprises are predicted to move that direction in the next few years. Upwork points to an April 2019 Research and Markets report that states, “The global CAM market is expected to grow from USD 2.3 billion in 2018 to USD 3.4 billion by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.6% during the forecast period. The CAM market is driven by various factors, such as the need for enhancing machine efficiency, increasing the production quality, and reducing material wastage.” 

According to Upwork’s annual Future Workforce Report, 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028, with 33% of full-time employees working remotely. Upwork posits that increasing amounts of remote work and wider geographic distribution of teams are changing urban infrastructure, thereby driving the need for more urban design, geospatial, and architectural rendering expertise: “Urban design (#7) specialists are helping keep up with this evolution by arranging and designing public spaces, transportation systems, and amenities for residents, tenants, and visitors. Geospatial (#10) technologies, which map and analyze the Earth's surface, and architectural renderings (#19) also saw significant growth as the public and private sector alike look for ways to optimize current and future space,” the company explained in a press release.

And while it’s only natural that Upwork’s perspective would heavily emphasize the growth and importance of remote work, they’re not alone in expecting big changes in this area. Research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics states:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005.
  • 40% more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options in 2018 than five years prior.
  • From 2015 to 2016, the telecommuter population grew by 11.7%.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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