Why don't IT companies hire freelancers

Shortage of skilled workers: IT freelancers are indispensable for companies

  • In seven out of ten companies, freelancers are very important
  • Half of the companies see increasing importance in the second half of the year
  • Challenges in commissioning: budget, compliance and availability

Berlin, September 12, 2017 - In times when there is a shortage of skilled workers, they offer competence, experience and are a real support: seven out of ten companies (70 percent) say that IT freelancers are very important to them. Every fourth company (24 percent) even estimates that freelancers are very important for their own company. Freelancers are currently particularly important for companies with 1,000 to 1,999 employees. Here, 29 percent say that they rely heavily on freelancers. This is the result of a representative survey of companies with more than 500 employees, which was carried out by Bitkom Research on behalf of the personnel service provider Etengo (Deutschland) AG. “The number of vacancies for IT specialists has passed the 50,000 mark, companies in all industries are desperately looking for IT experts. These are good times for IT freelancers who work in this area, ”says Dr. Axel Pols, Managing Director of Bitkom Research. "Without digital experts, from software developers to IT security specialists to IT consultants, the digital transformation in Germany would not be possible and without IT freelancers it would not be possible for many companies."

In addition, the current study shows that freelancers will continue to be very popular in the future. 51 percent of all companies surveyed expect freelancers to gain in importance in the second half of the year. Among the large companies with at least 2,000 employees, the figure is as high as 56 percent. This assessment is also reflected in the project volume that freelancers are already doing today and should be doing in the future. On average, 53 percent of companies assume that the proportion that freelancers manage in their projects will increase. In the past six months, freelancers took on a fifth (20 percent) of the project working hours. For the next six months, the companies expect that on average a quarter of the project volume (25 percent) will be handled by freelancers. “The fourth measurement of the Etengo Freelancer Index (EFX) impressively shows how important IT freelancers are for the German economy in the wake of the wave of digitization. For their part, the companies have flexible access to highly qualified knowledge workers and the IT freelancers make a decisive contribution to the company's success with their know-how - provided they have the right qualifications, ”emphasizes Nikolaus Reuter, founder and CEO at Etengo.

Because when it comes to hiring IT freelancers, there are also hurdles. Companies need a lot of time and resources until a suitable freelancer is on the project. On average, four appointments with different candidates are needed until the right one is found. Four out of ten companies (42 percent) even need five or more attempts. It becomes particularly difficult when there are only a few candidates with suitable skills and knowledge. 59 percent of companies are faced with this problem. And even if the right candidate is there, there are a number of other factors that make the assignment difficult. The budget processes and the already tight budgets represent a challenge for two thirds of the companies (66 percent each). Also for two out of three companies (65 percent) the availability of a suitable freelancer at the planned start of the project is a hurdle. Furthermore, about every second company (57 percent) has to overcome legal hurdles or internal compliance requirements on the way to the freelance contract. There are also challenges on the employee side: Four out of ten companies (40 percent) say that their own permanent employees have difficulties accepting freelancers. In 36 percent of the companies it is not clear whether the required know-how should be provided internally or externally. However, comparatively few companies (25 percent) doubt that there are any freelancers with the necessary qualifications.

The results report is available free of charge at: https://www.bitkom-research.de/EFX

Methodological note: The information is based on a representative survey that Bitkom Research carried out on behalf of Etengo (Deutschland) AG. 305 IT board members, CIOs or (main) IT department heads in German companies with 500 or more employees were questioned.