As millions of people around the world lost their jobs or had their hours cut due to COVID-19, the pandemic may well have also created a new wave of gig economy workers.
Freelancing activity in Australia grew by 86 per cent last year, according to a Payoneer survey, as people sought to create new sources of income.
And the number of online gigs posted on Freelancer.com grew by 17 per cent, from 1.8 million in 2019 to more than 2.1 million in 2020.
But there was one job on the platform that saw demand outstrip every other job: people who were experts in Flutter, a Google-created open source software development kit that lets developers create apps for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and more at a cheap cost.
Demand for experts of this platform rose by a stunning 320 per cent, from 2,136 jobs in 2019 to 8,971 jobs last year, according to Freelancer’s latest Fast 50 report.
The average pay for Flutter-related jobs on the Freelance platform came to US $342.30, or about $445 per project.
Why did Flutter grow so much?
Software developers can use Flutter to create user interfaces with ready-made widgets. And while software development is a complex subject matter for most people, the platform is apparently quite easy to pick up for those who have limited programming knowledge or experience building apps, according to software and engineering firm AltexSoft.
There are a lot of resources available for those who want to learn Flutter, and it’s been a fast-growing technology since 2018.
Apps made with Flutter also have a better performance and launch time compared to other platforms.
So as businesses went digital – perhaps for the first time – and individuals began freelancing, working for themselves or started their own business, they needed websites to show off their services.
According to Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie, the pandemic also drove greater demand for new websites to be created.
“In general, during 2020, startups and entrepreneurs [were] building websites and apps for all sorts of things like e-commerce, software as a service, and games,” he said.
“They are doing it in the smart way using modern technologies which allow you to write code once and publish everywhere, for instance, web, iOS and Android. Therefore, you can see an increase of demand for skills using Flutter.”
Freelancer.com’s most in-demand job in 2020
Here are the 10 online jobs that saw demand increase the most during 2020:
Flutter wasn’t the only job in programming and web development that grew in demand last year.
Demand for experts in seven other coding languages Firebase, Wix, RESTful API and Typescript all grew by more than 90 per cent.
The shift in the job market in favour of freelancers will be permanent, said Barrie, with the number of freelancers and employers seeking freelancers starting to surge from the end of Q1 2020 and lasting through to Q4.
“While COVID-19 has been the trigger of the already upward trending freelancer movement, this exponential growth can also be attributed to the strong desire for individuals to finally start their own freelance enterprise, work on their own terms and supplement their income,” Barrie said.