One of Australia's quickest growing industries, known as the "hidden economy" by many, has continued to swell in the last year with more and more people across the nation working in the freelance sector.
People looking to bridge the skills gaps that companies face by offering their services on a job-by-job basis are increasingly seeing their demand on the rise, and the fact they can attract some of the best wages around has meant a rise in the volume of people looking towards freelance rather than traditional styles of working.
According to the latest study released this week by Upwork, the last 12 months alone has seen the number of people who are working as freelancers increase by some 370,000. It said that in total, as much as a third of the population is now working in the freelance sector.
In the past year, Upwork said, the rise of freelance websites that allow people to advertise their skills has meant that 4.1 million Australian residents, as many as 32 per cent of the population, have opted to do some form of freelance work.
Some 58 per cent of those who went into freelance work said it was a voluntary move away from traditional ways of working that brought them into it, while 51 per cent said they are already making more than they were in what people might consider a normal job.
Of those who said they were earning more than they were in the past, some 69 per cent said it took them less than a year of doing freelance work to top their previous earnings, while 58 per cent also added that after working this way, there was no way they would go back to a traditional job.
“This is something that’s pretty flabbergasting,” said Rich Pearson, senior vice president, marketing and categories at Upwork.
“Freelancing in Australia is a powerful movement and it’s changing how people approach and even define work,” he said. “It used to be something you said out the side of your mouth, maybe you weren’t so proud to admit, but it’s becoming a much more respected and desirable career path, even aspirational.”