By Daniel Hunter

Elance, the leading online employment platform, has revealed that online hiring and earnings are far outpacing the traditional employment economy with over 40% growth rates.

The quarterly Global Online Employment Report shows that independent professionals in hard-hit areas are escaping their local economies by working online, and that demand for talent in marketing, writing, security and gaming is expanding around the globe.

“On Elance, your earnings aren’t tied to where you are located. What matters most is what you can do, and how well you do it,” said Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance. “Skilled professionals everywhere are going online to find clients and interesting jobs. As Elance’s growth accelerates, we are increasingly confident in our prediction that 1 in 3 workers will be hired online by 2020.”

Q3 highlights from the report

With more than 220,000 new job posts (+41%) and contractor earnings of over £30M (+42%) Elance set new records in Q3. The number of businesses hiring (+28%) and the number of freelancers that registered (+64%) on Elance increased significantly over the same quarter a year ago. This optimism is translating into increased freelancer optimism and record growth, as European countries with the highest unemployment saw an increase in earnings of more than 200% in the past year.

European professionals escape local economies

Some of Europe’s highest-unemployment countries showed significant online earning increases on Elance over the last year. Countries including Spain (25.8% unemployment); Greece (25.1% unemployment); Portugal (15.7% unemployment) and Croatia (15.2% unemployment) have each shown unprecedented earnings growth of 48%, 167%, 101% and 298%, respectively in the third quarter of 2012 compared to a year ago.

Greece, one of the countries in Europe hit hardest by the Eurozone crisis, saw total freelancer earnings exceed £66,000 on Elance in the third quarter of this year in comparison to £25,136 in the same quarter of 2011. The highest growth in earnings came from Luxembourg where freelancer earnings increased 670% in Q3 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011.

Continued strong growth in the UK

The United Kingdom, one of the highest earning countries on Elance, saw a 62% growth in freelancer earnings over the last three months. 59% of UK freelancers registered on Elance have been hired by businesses for the first time over the last three months as the number of job posts increased by 45% over the same time period. The overall number of UK freelancers being hired on Elance went up by 55%.

Marketers make a splash

The sales and marketing category was particularly vibrant in Q3; job posts increased by 40% year-over-year and demand for skills such as social media marketing (+157%), marketing strategy (+136%) and lead generation (+136%) were all up significantly in 2012, rivaling IT and programming, the top category on Elance. Businesses around the world today have more channels than ever to connect and engage with potential customers, which is increasing connectivity and fueling demand for marketing services online.

Security the newest growth sector

Requests for security-centric experts such as security engineers (+448%), security analysts (+326%) and web security managers (+87%) skyrocketed this year on Elance and show no signs of slowing down. As businesses both small and large continue to adopt the cloud for a competitive advantage in productivity and collaboration, security is increasingly becoming a must-have for companies seeking peace of mind.

Niche writing skills emerge

The number of jobs posted within the writing sector grew by 176% over the past year, and the increase was heavily driven by several emerging skills. Specialised writing skills such as speech writing (+474%), script writing (+371%) and sports writing (+282%) have seen dramatic increases compared to the same quarter last year on Elance. By working online, freelancers with niche skill sets can work with a global client base that is looking for expert talent in these specific fields.

Businesses get animated

Demand for skills such as cover design (+303%), game development (+88%) and game programming (+76%) hit record growth in the last year on Elance, as businesses seek to convert users to players and make commerce fun again. Gamification of the enterprise topped the trend list this year, prompting businesses around the world to take note of this engagement strategy - and they’re turning to online resources to find the best talent.

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