Half the working population could be made up of contractors and freelancers by the end of the decade, a new study by PeoplePerHour predicts.

The flexible labour market is currently growing by 3.5% every year. This growth rate is faster than any other sector and the trend is set to continue during the next five years, according to The Evolution of the On-demand Economy study.

The surge, if it continues, will mean that 50% of workers will be self-employed by 2020, while SMEs and micro-businesses are set save over £6,000 a year as they begin to take advantage of niche skill sets prevalent in the flexible workforce.

The study notes that there has been a shift in attitude regarding the risk of sourcing contractors, with improved tech and methods of communication enabling independent experts in every sector to flourish and deliver high-quality service.

PeoplePerHour founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou said: “The self-employed workforce is growing by the day, and on-demand services are being required more and more. Speed and accessibility are today’s buzzwords and it’s no different when making recruitment decisions. It is literally a whole new economy in the making. It’s the future.”

Contractors defined as ‘hyper specialists’ with a particularly niche skill set are likely to be the biggest revenue-savers for firms, as they can reduce SME’s transactional spend by as much as 75%. This has helped smaller businesses to scale labour capacity more efficiently while enjoying higher quality outputs and improve market efficiencies.

Web development/mobile workers have seen the highest growth in demand for their services during the last eight years, according to the report.

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