freelancersA survey carried out by online recruitment agency People Per Hour has revealed that in the last 12 months there has been a 68% increase in the amount of businesses that are taking on freelancers in order to solve staffing issues.

The survey involved nearly 9,000 businesses, 80% of which were small businesses, throughout July and showed that two-thirds of the respondents are turning to freelancers to fill their skills gap. Of those surveyed, 71% put their decision down to the flexibility and cost savings that are involved when employing a freelance worker.

The research showed that the IT and web design industry sectors were most likely to use freelancers, with marketing, accounting and legal services also showing a keen interest in this method of employment.

The survey highlighted that while the uncertain economic climate is deterring employers from offering permanent contracts – and in many cases resulting in large-scale redundancies – it has encouraged 70% of businesses to continue using freelancers in the long-term.

Many businesses that have been forced to turn to using contractors for the first time during this tentative period have realised that employing a freelancer is a cost-effective and accessible method of sourcing expertise.

Iain Mcllwee, the head of commercial development at the freelance trade association, PCG, commented:

“Freelancers are often more results-driven, easier to acquire at short notice and can be used to bring in an outside perspective to a business.”

He estimated that one in 20 UK employees are now employed on a freelance basis.