Freelancers defy economic woes
Freelancers across Europe are escaping the worst effects of the economic downturn by using the internet to work with employers all around the world, new research suggests.
Statistics from Elance, the online marketplace for freelancers, show that online hiring and earnings are growing far faster than in the conventional economy, at rates of 40 per cent or higher. “Skilled professionals everywhere are going online to find clients and interesting jobs,” said Fabio Rosati, the chief executive of Elance. “We are increasingly confident in our prediction that one in three workers will be hired online by 2020.”
Elance said 220,000 jobs had been posted on its marketplace by employers from around the world during the third quarter of the year, a 41 per cent increase on the same three-month period of 2011. Freelancers’ earnings through the platform were up 42 per cent to just over £30m.
The UK has seen faster-than-average growth on Elance, with a 62 per cent rise in contractors’ earnings over the year to the end of September. The number of freelancers in the UK hired via Elance was up by 55 per cent.
Freelancers in other parts of Europe are also benefiting from the increase in online opportunities. In Spain, Greece and Portugal, the unemployment black spots of the Eurozone, freelancers’ earnings on Elance were up by 48 per cent, 167 per cent and 101 per cent respectively.
The largest numbers of job opportunities are in areas such as sales and marketing, security, specialist writing, design and gaming.
The research suggests that the growth in freelancing in many countries, including the UK, reflects rising demand internationally as well as the changing domestic economic environment. “Independent professionals in hard-hit areas are escaping their local economies by working online and demand for talent is expanding around the globe,” Mr Rosati added.
By David Prosser, Editor of Freelancing Matters magazine