HR · 12 November 2015

PHP, graphic design and content writing among the most sought-after freelance skills

London was the most popular freelancing hotspot within the UK
London was the most popular freelancing hotspot within the UK

To tie in with National Freelancers’ Day, job site Upwork has revealed what the most popular skills British businesses look for among freelancers, as well as where the top places to freelance are in the UK.

The number of self-employed people in the UK has risen by 30,000 in the past three months, according to ONS, with the figure now standing at 4.55m. This makes up 14 per cent of the total workforce at 31.21m.

Upwork has ten million freelancers on its platform worldwide and it said the most popular place for freelancers was London, with nearly 53 per cent of those registered for freelance work based there.

In second place was Birmingham, though that trailed the capital considerably at four per cent. Edinburgh and Glasgow were among the cities with the highest number of registered freelancers.

Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and Brighton also all featured, along with Southampton, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford and Reading.

When it came to skills that UK firms went to freelancers for, the top ten was dominated by digital and web-related abilities.

Most sought-after skills by British businesses in 2015:

(1) PHP – a scripting language used in the creation of websites

(2) Graphic design

(3) Content writing for websites, blogs and social media

(4) WordPress

(5) Internet research for a broad range of firms

(6) Data entry

(7) Article writing for various publications

(8) Knowledge of Javascript

(9) Photoshop knowledge

(10) Web design

Job satisfaction among UK freelancers is also soaring, according to a study carried out by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed. Nearly 90 per cent agreed that they were very satisfied with the way they work, and 65 per cent intended to continue working in this way for the foreseeable future.

IPSE said the fact its survey of 696 freelancers found just two per cent wanted to make the switch to work as an employee indicated that the increase in the number of freelancers over the past few years was not just a short-term solution, but a satisfying career choice.

University freelance service Gradlancer, found freelancing was picking up among students specifically. Speaking to 1,000 students, it reported 56 per cent had freelanced while studying, even though 62 per cent said freelancing wasn’t even discussed as an option by their university’s careers department.

Despite what many considered insufficient support from their careers department, 44 per cent of students confirmed they were considering freelancing as a future career path.

Anthony Adeloye, co-founder of Gradlancer, said: “With tuition fees topping out at £9,000 each year and an incredibly competitive full job market, where there are 160 graduates chasing every position – it is unsurprising that students are now taking this route.”

Adeloye pointed out that freelance work meant students “can gain relevant work experience, on their own terms, which ties in with their studies – while also being able to pay off their university fees”.

Image: Shutterstock

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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