Small Businesses Rely On Freelancers to Close Skills Gap . / Credit: Hiring Image via Shutterstock

Freelancers are becoming an increasingly valuable talent pipeline for a majority of small business owners. New research, conducted by freelance marketplace Elance, reveals that 70 percent of survey respondents would hire freelance workers to close skills gaps and spur growth in their business.

Business owners think that way because they have had success with freelance workers in the past, Elance said. Forty-five percent of the business owners surveyed said they have used freelancers to expand into new markets, and 50 percent said they have hired freelancers to work on a number of projects. In addition, nearly 90 percent of the business owners surveyed said they think having freelancers on their workforce is a competitive advantage over their competition. Additionally, 87 percent of business owners said the talent level among freelancers is comparable to that of workers in their area. 

[It's Not All About the Money for Freelancers]

Demand in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields is another driving force behind this freelance-worker growth. In particular, data scientists, 3D printing experts, network and security professionals, and mobile software and application developers are among some of the most in-demand fields for freelancers. 

That demand is also driving up wages. In the United States, freelance wages are up 69 percent from last year on average, according to Elance.

"The ability to hire the best available person online and on-demand is becoming an essential strategy for agile businesses of all sizes," said Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance.

The research was based on hiring data from Elance.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.