AI skills most sought by employers revealed in new Upwork report

Employers are increasingly on the hunt for workers skilled in the use of generative AI tools and machine-learning models

Employers are increasingly looking for workers who are skilled in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and new research from Upwork sheds light on what AI skills companies are searching and hiring for.

Upwork found that from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, companies’ top search term related to generative AI was ChatGPT, the generative AI chatbot made by OpenAI. It was followed by BERT, an open-source language model, and Stable Diffusion which generates images based on a user’s text input.

"The growing demand for AI applications and services is important as true business value for generative AI lies not in a singular AI tool, but in understanding the capabilities and diverse use cases for this technology," said Kelly Monahan, managing director of the Upwork Research Institute. "The search terms companies are using and what they will hire for are evolving to be more sophisticated, and we think they’ll continue to see that understanding deepen over time."


OpenAI ChatGPT Screen

Employers are increasingly on the hunt for workers skilled in the use of generative AI tools and machine learning models. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via / Getty Images)

AI as a category experienced the most growth on Upwork in the first half of 2023 as generative AI job posts were up 1,000% in Q2 2023 compared to the end of last year. AI-related searches also increased over 1,500% in the same time period, Upwork noted.

"We’re also seeing the talent supply on Upwork rise to meet that evolving demand, which is really impressive given how quickly this demand has appeared on our marketplace, and in the world broadly," Monahan noted.



OpenAI's ChatGPT was employers' most popular AI-related search term on Upwork in the first half of 2023. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via / Getty Images)

Upwork also released data on the fastest-growing generative AI searches on its platform in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of this year.

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AI content creation was the fastest-growing AI search term on Upwork followed by Gradio, which helps users build and demonstrate their machine-learning models.

Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI, a suite of customizable coding and language AI tools, ranked as the third fastest-growing AI search term.


Upwork Logo Job Search

Upwork noted a 1,000% increase in AI-related job postings in Q2 2023 compared to the end of 2022. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via / Getty Images)

To better understand where companies are starting their generative AI work, Upwork also released data on the types of projects that hired freelancers.  

ChatGPT ranked first, while natural language processing (NLP) – which allows AI programs to understand prompts written or spoken by users – ranked second. 


Open-source machine learning platform TensorFlow, image processing, and PyTorch – a framework for building deep learning models used for applications like image recognition – rounded out the top five.