These Are the Skills You Need to Make It in the New Freelance Economy

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Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel

We’ve all heard it: This is the era of the freelance economy, where the autodidact rules and the jack-of-at-least-many-trades is more marketable than the guy with one degree in one focus from one decent school. The rules are changing — in part because we want them to, and in part because we can’t stop them from doing so.

Despite a gross lack of representation in the jobs figures, the new economy is helping patch up America’s lagging employment. Workers are more and more opting to start their own businesses, rather than work for someone else. It’s not just that the jobs aren’t there for us — it’s that the jobs we want aren’t there. But anyone who’s ever started a business knows: It takes a lot of time, effort, and knowledge.

According to those who wring their hands about joblessness, the solution is a “skills gap,” wherein workers know what they need or want to do, but aren’t quite equipped to do so. Unfortunately, the skills most people are concerned about aren’t the right ones. Writing for the SF Gate, Rachel Burstein explains the idea and the real solution:

“The solution, according to the pundits? Education and training that focus on technical skills like computer engineering, or on crucial but scarce skills like welding. Match these newlytrained employees with open jobs that require those skills and, voila, the skills gap is gone — and the labor market is steadied.

If only it were so simple.

Yes, more American workers need to learn skills that are underrepresented in the labor market. And yes, those technology titans who advocate for more challenging school curricula, for greater funding for science and engineering education…But that’s not all there is to it. The problem with the skills gap argument is that it accounts for only one set of skills that employers consider important.”

The education we’re lacking isn’t just hard skills; it’s creativity, and the confidence to apply it to the task at hand. The most important skills today aren’t taught in traditional classroom environments, but are demanded by traditional and non-traditional jobs alike. Creative thinking, problem-solving, and savvy. Knowing how to do the things your business needs, and knowing when to ask for help.

But how do we learn such an eclectic constellation of skills, and the mindset to apply them?

This month on CreativeLive’s Money & Life channel, we’ve got the classes you need to make it in an economy that’s demanding more knowhow — and yet providing less guidance. From squishy skills like body language to the more concrete, day-to-day tactical skills of managing a small business (saving money, marketing, etc.), it’s all there, and taught by some of our favorite instructors, like Vanessa Van Edwards and Ramit Sethi.

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Whether you need help making new connections, building a business that highlights your strengths, or taking care of your physical self (that matters too, you know), CreativeLive’s September schedule is your roadmap to success in today’s economy. You just have to show up.

Hanna Brooks Olsen FOLLOW >

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.