Freelancing platform Upwork is offering organizations up to $25,000 in grants as part of a $1 million effort "to help develop and accelerate projects whose mission is tied directly to mitigating COVID-19’s devastating impact on individuals, communities and economies." The money from this initiative, which Upwork is calling the Work Together Talent Grants Program, will go directly to freelancers on the company’s platform.
"This challenge requires us to work quickly and at scale across a broad range of skills and with fresh thinking," said Upwork President and CEO Hayden Brown. "The Work Together Talent Grants Program was created to meet this challenge head on, and ensure the work we do today helps get the world back together tomorrow. We are grateful to provide businesses with the critical talent they need for these impactful initiatives."
- Any organization with a project that aligns with these goals can apply. Grant recipients will receive credits on Upwork toward the cost of hiring independent contractors "across technology, creative, marketing and operations." They also will receive assistance in finding professionals to hire for projects.
Contingent work was on the rise before the coronavirus outbreak. Especially after the 2007 recession, the number and skillsets of freelancers began steadily increasing. A 2018 study from Upwork found that HR managers are increasingly turning to contractors to fill key skills gaps; 70% said they're already using flexible talent, including agency personnel, freelancers and temp workers. Entrepreneurs also were increasingly looking to contingent talent.
Today it is less clear what role contingent work will have in the workforce of the future. With unemployment rising as layoffs and furloughs continue amid the pandemic, more workers may turn to freelancing. Even as a temporary option, gig work has been a good way to ease in to re-entry for those who have taken time off from the workforce. In addition to the supply, the demand for contract work could also increase, as a quarter of global, mid-sized employers in a recent Randstad study said they had converted some traditional employee roles into contractor jobs.
Some of the most popular skills employers are looking for from contract workers include project management; market analysis; process optimization and transformation; advanced analytics; and change management, according to a report from Business Talent Group.