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The Evolving Marketplace for Generative AI
The Evolving Marketplace for Generative AI


The Evolving Marketplace for Generative AI

The Evolving Marketplace for Generative AI

Generative AI has sparked a wave of enhanced productivity for companies and their workforces. As businesses rush to incorporate new AI products and services, they are beginning to realize the potential of these technologies to augment human capabilities effectively. This involves automating repetitive tasks, improving decision-making processes, and streamlining operations.

Our recent research on the adoption of generative AI in the workplace has revealed a significant trend: companies are gearing up to expand their workforce in response to generative AI. A remarkable 49% of hiring managers express their intention to hire more independent talent, while an equal 49% plan to bring in more full-time employees. The first half of 2023 witnessed AI emerging as the fastest-growing category on Upwork, with generative AI job postings on the platform surging by over 1,000% in Q2 compared to the previous year’s end. Concurrently, related searches on generative AI skyrocketed by over 1,500% in the same period. These statistics underline the growing enthusiasm among businesses for the opportunities presented by generative AI.

Our latest research endeavors to uncover which specific generative AI skills are in high demand among companies. Additionally, we explore evolving trends in behavior and the increasing pool of independent talent equipped with advanced generative AI skills. Our study is grounded in real-world market behaviors observed on our platform, showcasing its capacity to efficiently cater to the needs of both AI talent seeking job opportunities and clients searching for AI expertise.

Key Findings:

  1. ChatGPT Tops Company Searches: In the first half of 2023, ChatGPT, including its underlying models GPT-3 and GPT4, attracted the most attention from companies. OpenAI continues to enjoy a pioneering position with ChatGPT, followed by BERT and Stable Diffusion as top generative AI-related search terms among those looking to hire.
  2. Shift Towards AI Applications and Services: Companies are progressively shifting their focus from individual generative AI tools to generative AI applications and services. This transition reflects an evolving understanding of the technology, with skills related to AI content creation, Azure OpenAI, and prompt engineering experiencing substantial growth in searches quarter-over-quarter.
  3. Independent Professionals Lead in Foundational AI Skills: The most rapidly growing generative AI skills suggest a deeper comprehension of the abilities required to implement AI effectively in solving business challenges. Independent professionals are at the forefront, embracing skills like working with Large Language Models (LLMs), prompt engineering, and object detection.
  4. Strong Alignment of Demand and Supply: An analysis of top generative AI-related searches by companies and top generative AI-related project hires demonstrates a remarkable synergy between demand and supply on our platform. Seven out of the top 10 skills feature on both lists, indicating the platform’s proficiency in connecting businesses with the AI expertise they require and connecting highly skilled independent talent with the right AI projects.

Companies Shifting Focus to AI Applications and Services

Between January 1 and June 30, 2023, our platform witnessed a surge in generative AI-related searches by companies, with a primary focus on singular generative AI tools. This surge coincided with heightened public awareness following the general release of ChatGPT. ChatGPT, including GPT-3 and GPT-4, received the most searches during this period.

Top 10 generative AI-related searches by companies, January 1 – June 30, 2023:

  1. ChatGPT
  2. BERT
  3. Stable Diffusion
  4. TensorFlow
  5. AI Chatbot
  6. Generative AI
  7. Image Processing
  8. PyTorch
  9. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  10. Bard

Quarter-over-quarter analysis for the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter revealed a shift in search behavior. Companies increasingly showed interest in generative AI applications and services rather than individual tools, indicating the evolving understanding of generative AI’s versatile applications.

Rising Generative AI Skills Among Independent Talent

The supply of independent talent with generative AI skills has grown steadily in the first half of 2023. On Upwork, independent professionals have successfully completed over 20,000 projects involving AI work in the past year alone.

While the first quarter of 2023 witnessed a significant surge in interest in ChatGPT, specific skills like prompt engineering, which involves crafting prompts to elicit responses from language models, gained prominence only in the second quarter of 2023. When examining the most commonly listed generative AI-related skills on Upwork talent profiles, ChatGPT remained predominant, followed by a mix of AI tools, services, and applications such as natural language processing (NLP), TensorFlow, PyTorch, and more.

When analyzing the skills with the highest growth rate listed on talent profiles, it becomes evident that foundational AI skills like prompt engineering are growing at a faster pace than a single application or tool. This trend mirrors the growing understanding of the fundamental AI skills needed to strategically leverage AI technologies across various domains, both on the business and talent sides.

Strong Demand Meets Talent Supply on Upwork

Comparing the lists of top AI-related searches by companies and top AI-related project hires in the first half of the year, we observe a responsive and productive work marketplace that effectively caters to the needs of AI talent seeking job opportunities and clients searching for AI expertise. An impressive seven out of the top 10 skills appear on both lists, indicating the platform’s ability to connect businesses with the AI expertise they require and connect highly skilled independent talent with suitable AI projects.

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As generative AI continues to drive hiring across organizations and AI skills continue to evolve, business leaders and hiring managers will increasingly seek a diverse range of AI skill sets. This evolution aligns with their deepening understanding of this new technology and its potential. Leveraging platforms like Upwork and flexible work models that efficiently meet rising hiring demands will be crucial for businesses looking to bridge skill gaps, maintain agility, and continue fostering innovation. By accurately identifying the right roles for humans and technology, organizations can unlock new levels of productivity, creativity, and growth in the era of generative AI.


  • Generative AI: A subset of artificial intelligence that enables users to generate content, data, and outputs based on patterns and examples present in existing information.
  • AI tools: Software, services, programs, or systems that utilize artificial intelligence techniques, algorithms, and capabilities to perform specific tasks.
  • AI skills: Specialized knowledge and understanding of artificial intelligence principles, techniques, algorithms, and methodologies.
  • AI services: Offerings provided by organizations or platforms that leverage artificial intelligence.
  • AI applications: Problems, fields, or goals for which software, tools, systems, or solutions utilizing artificial intelligence techniques, algorithms, and technologies are used.


Skills data was sourced from the Upwork database for the period from January 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023. The skills analysis focused on the generative AI skills category. Quarter-over-quarter growth was estimated by comparing the frequency of skills appearing in client searches to gauge demand and on freelancer profiles to estimate supply.

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