Freelance programmers, SEO specialists and web developers are in high demand in both small and medium businesses (SMB). The survey finding from PeoplePerHour.com, which connects SMEs to freelancers, is a ray of sunshine after gloomy news about the UK economy in the last quarter.
HTML5 sparks demand
According to the survey, the number of technical and web personnel hires by SMBs has increased by 80% over the last six months. The arrival of HTML5 mark-up language has been a catalyst for web development and related activity, reckons founder and CEO Xenios Thrasyvoulou.
Such is the spike in demand for web programming and SEO skills that 30% of IT contractors are now recruiting fellow freelancers in order to complete projects.
“The figure represents a staggering rise as the contractor-turned-recruiter community was a single digit percentage one year ago”, confirmed Thrasyvoulou. "Skilled individuals are building fantastic reputations, winning more and more work and ultimately deciding to bring in support to help meet the demand for their services”.
Small biz is web-savvy...
Thrasyvoulou concedes that it is unsurprising that IT contractors are riding the crest of demand as the PeoplePerHour community comprises businesses that are particularly web-savvy. “These companies are happy operating on the web and have chosen this space in order to be competitive. They had to get lean fast in the downturn and are now nimbler and growing fast.”
... and a barometer
Even if GDP is down and employment figures up, that is not necessarily reflected in core activity at the SMB end of the market, Thrasyvoulou points out. “Small business success is a barometer of what is to come in the larger economy”, he states.
Contractors on the up
According to a survey by freelancers association, the UK PCG, in Q4 2010:
• Almost half (47%) of IT business leaders have noticed an increase in the number of people working freelance in the last 12 months
• 69% of IT business leaders agree that working patterns are becoming more suitable to freelancers
Study confirms SMB role
The value that IT contractors can add to smaller scale businesses is confirmed in a report published by e-skills and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. The study estimates the economy could be boosted by an additional £50 bn over the next five to seven years, if more small businesses take-up advanced IT.
It found that small firms, particularly those employing 10 or less are less likely to use IT effectively in their operations. "Many don't know what questions to ask. When they do ask the questions, they get terribly technical answers, so there is a vicious circle going on," said Martin Harvey, director of UK partnerships at E-skills UK.
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