Elance, a platform for online freelance work, today released its first-ever European Online Employment Report, which reveals that the UK is leading the way in a European-wide trend to hire and manage in the cloud.

The report shows a 55% increase in the hiring of web freelancers by UK businesses on their site since Q3 2010. This is matched by a 53% increase in spending by European businesses in total, with the biggest growth coming from Italy (+87%), Norway (+69%), and France (+64%).

Some other notable stats:

  • London businesses hire the most Elance contractors in the UK, but Birmingham (89%), Reading (59%), and Edinburgh (40%) are all seeing impressive growth. When compared to European capitals, London is also on top, followed by Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam.
  • Demand for creative services is booming with a 192% increase in the UK in Q3 2011 and a 214% increase across Europe for contractors on Elance with creative skills including graphic design, multimedia, and writing skills.
  • Engineers are building momentum, with demand for engineers growing on Elance: Chemical Engineering (+155%), Network Engineering (+45%), Civil Engineering (+36%), Electrical Engineering (+28%), and Mechanical Engineering (+13%). CAD skills also saw greater demand: AutoCAD (+32%), ArchiCAD (+60%), and Rhino CAD (+7%).
  • Legal professionals are also increasingly popular on Elance, with lawyers specializing in Tax Law (+69%), International Law (+27%), and Employment Law (+13%) all seeing significant increases during Q3 2011.
  • Customer service agents and virtual assistants on Elance have earned 58% more than last year in Q3.
  • Experts with 3D multimedia skills saw a sharp increase this quarter, with 3D Studio Max up 61%, 3D Modeling up 28%, and 3D up 13%, as businesses seek another dimension for creative and visual storytelling. Similarly, demand for video skills such as After Effects rose 24%, Videography went up by 33%, Final Cut Pro saw a 26% increase, and demand for Video Editing went up 21%.
  • Mobile is still hot, with worldwide businesses fueling a 32% increase in demand for iOS skills, spiking a 25% growth in demand for those with iPad-specific skills. Android has extended its market share lead and seen a 14% surge in demand.
  • Support for managing customer relationships remains popular, with Salesforce.com experts seeing a 35% rise in demand, while SugarCRM (+9%) and Data Interpretation (+29%) also experienced increases, indicating heightened focus on CRM and customer data.