Despite the rapid growth of online platform labour, little is known about how crowdworkers acquire and develop their skills. This project seeks to address this important gap in our knowledge.


Online platform work is the world’s fastest growing form of employment. Last year the amount of work mediated by online platforms grew by 26%. In modern economies this is helping to accelerate a transformation from traditional employment to more flexible and, in many instances, more precarious digitally-enabled forms of work.

As online workers seek to increase their earnings, and when competition for work intensifies, the burden is on the worker to constantly update and improve their skills. The skills they need range from the subtleties of platform use and self-promotion, to substantive skills such as programming languages and graphic design techniques. Yet we know very little about how crowdworkers acquire and develop their skills. The project team will interview 80 crowdworkers, conduct surveys, and interview other stakeholders to shed light on crowdworkers’ skill development practices and on how platforms match skills with demand. Among other things, the results will reveal if existing forms of capital (technical, economic, cultural and social) matter or if new crowdworkers are able to acquire these advantages as they work online. The project team will then assess the policy implications of evidence.