IT pros scoop up freelance contracts

Freelance IT workers and programmers are in high demand from online recruiters, suggests study.

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IT workers are most likely to be awarded freelance jobs through online recruitment, a new report suggests.

Thirty five per cent of all UK freelance hires made through online recruitment portal Elance were in this sector. Design and multimedia was the next largest sector, coming in at 25 per cent.

The report also found there had been a 51 per cent increase in the number of businesses hiring freelancers online and that the jobs themselves were more rewarding, with freelancer earnings up 37 per cent on last year.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs are highly sought after in the UK, the company found, with freelancers who are qualified in PHP, HTML and CSS being in highest demand.

Furthermore, demand for data scientists and statisticians is up 200 per cent, while calls for mobile and software application developers has doubled.

Networking and security professionals also saw an increase in job postings, up 150 per cent on last year.

Kjetil Olsen, vice president for Europe at Elance, said: "As the wider UK economy recovers, we're seeing a parallel boom in demand for freelancers. There are more employers, hiring more freelancers across a wider range of jobs.

"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."

However, while UK-based freelancers were awarded 64 per cent more jobs in Q2 2013 than Q2 2012, those in the US, India and Pakistan were still more likely to be successful in their applications.

"It's clear that online freelancing is having a very real and positive impact on UK-based workers, but employers are still forced to look overseas for some skills that are in short supply locally," Olsen said.

"For employers, the ability to tap into a global talent pool is critical if they are to remain competitive. However, this underlines the need for the UK workforce to acquire the skills that today's fast growing companies demand," he concluded.

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