The number of contractors and other self-employed professionals in the UK surged by 30,000 during the third quarter of the year, according to the new UK Labour Market report published by the Office for National Statistics.

There are now 4.5 million freelancers and contractors in the UK, which equates to 14% of the total 31.21 million workforce. The report noted that the number of freelancers aged over 50 has increased by 46.5% since 2008 and now accounts for almost three-quarters of all self-employed individuals.

The overall job market is in rude health, with the employment rate of 73.7% the highest since records began 44 years ago; meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to just 5.3%.

To tie in with this year’s National Freelancers Day on Thursday 12th November, global freelancing platform Upwork has revealed its top 20 locations for flexible work in the UK.

London remains the most popular location, with almost 53% of registered contractors and freelancers. The second city, Birmingham, is the second most popular, with a comparatively small 4% of workers. Scotland is also a central hub for creative professionals, with both Edinburgh and Glasgow among the leading cities.

Upwork also listed the skills that are most in demand by British firms this year and it appears that knowledge in graphic and web design are increasingly sought after in the digital age.

According to Upwork, the top 10 in-demand skills are:

  • PHP.
  • Graphic design.
  • Content writing for blogs, social media and websites.
  • WordPress.
  • Internet research.
  • Data entry.
  • Article writing.
  • Javascript.
  • Adobe Photoshop.
  • Web design.
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