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UK freelance economy booming, research finds

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The number of UK businesses hiring freelancers online has increased by 51% in the last year, research has revealed.

According to the latest Global Online Employment Report by online work platform Elance, payments made to freelancers by businesses have also gone up by 47% since 2012.

The report found the most in-demand freelancers are those working in IT and programming (35% of all hires), design and multimedia (25%) and writing and translation (23%).

Demand for freelancers in sales and marketing, administrative support, and engineering and manufacturing has surged by 87%, 85% and 173% respectively.

The report shows freelancers are increasingly being used long-term by businesses. Globally, 50% of businesses are hiring freelancers for more than than six months and more than a quarter of businesses have worked with the same freelancer for at leas a year.

Kjetil Olsen, Elance VP of Europe, said the demand for freelancers was echoing the UK’s wider economic recovery.

“There are more employers, hiring more freelancers across a wider range of jobs,” he said. “For some, this is about managing short-term demand for talent and de-risking growth, but it’s also evident that for tens of thousands of UK businesses, retaining freelancers as an integral part of their talent mix is becoming an essential strategy.”