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Germany is one of the fastest-growing countries for freelancing, data shows

Freelancer.com reports a sharp increase in new users as Germany grapples with a surge in inflation and cost of living prices

By Miriam Partington in Berlin

Germany is among the fastest-growing regions globally for freelancing, new data from global freelancer platform Freelancer.com has revealed — with many people using freelancing to earn additional cash alongside a full-time job as the cost of living surges.

The number of new users (both freelancers and companies advertising for freelance jobs) in Germany has nearly tripled in the last few months on Freelancer.com, growing from 3,164 new users a week in June to 8,117 new users a week in September. 

“Freelancing is a great way for anyone around the world to earn an additional income, so we do tend to see spikes in growth when there are economic factors impacting work,” says Freelancer.com vice-president Sebastián Siseles.

Rising prices are certainly an issue across Europe — German inflation recently rose to its highest rate in 70 years — which makes earning extra income with  freelancing more attractive. Germany seems to be growing fast as a freelance economy anecdotally, with companies increasingly outsourcing services to plug skills gaps.

The recent mass layoffs among tech companies in Europe also play a role in the number of new users on Freelancer.com, says Siseles. In Germany specifically, industrial manufacturer Siemens cut 2,000 IT jobs in August, while drivetrain and power-train tech company Vitesco is reportedly cutting 810 jobs at its Nuremberg site over the next few years.

Freelancer marketplace Malt says Germany is also a “high growth” market for them, with 17.8% of its 410k freelancers in Europe registered in Germany. Its cofounder and CEO Vincent Huguet says the surge of freelancers in Germany reflects a wider global trend of people turning to freelancing, as they seek more freedom and flexibility in their working lives.

Plugging the talent gap

As well as reporting a growth in new freelancers looking for work, Freelancer.com has seen a growth of employers — from startups and SMEs to large enterprises — using the platform to hire freelance support for writing and technical tasks. 

Siseles says the use of freelancers by companies is less a “cost-cutting exercise” and more a way for organisations to “plug skill gaps, source external advisory, dramatically improve their production capacities (whether services, advisory or production) or off-load large, repetitive tasks.”

Users of Freelancer.com’s platform in Germany are earning an average of €288 per project, which is an additional €1,152 per month if they complete one project a week. 

Using freelancers also means companies can get “support on-demand” for “high volume tasks or projects that require niche skills” that don’t require hiring a full-time employee, adds Siseles.

From June to September, the most highly sought-after skills among freelancers were article writing, German translation, copywriting, data entry and graphic design. 

While skills fluctuate from quarter to quarter, the need for skills relating to design and programming, Siseles says, remain “constant”. Jobs for HTML coding, PHP coding, website development and Photoshop consistently rank as the most in-demand type of project on the platform.

Interestingly, while Malt sees the strongest demand for IT and data roles, graphic designers, and UX and web designers on its platform, it’s also seeing a huge spike in jobs in sectors that are fairly new to freelancing: such as human resources, sales, business development, finance and legal services.

Fastest-growing freelancing cities 

The fastest-growing city for new users on Freelancer.com is Frankfurt — typically known for housing Germany’s financial sector and large enterprises. 

Sisseles says that the spike in users in Frankfurt is down to larger corporations becoming more comfortable with hiring on-demand freelancers remotely, which allows them to get access to key skills without having to hire full-time employees. 

Malt cofounder Huguet adds that the boom in freelancers in Germany is also down to a wider trend of individuals wanting more flexibility in their working lives and the freedom to work on meaningful projects from a variety of clients. In contrast to Freelancer.com, whose users mainly use the platform to earn additional cash alongside a full time job, the majority of Malt’s users are full-time freelancers who specifically chose this way of working. 

“There’s this image that freelancers are precarious, but when we do our annual survey of our freelance community about why they became freelancers, more than 90% always say they left their full-time jobs and chose to become freelancers.”

Miriam Partington is Sifted’s DACH correspondent. She also covers future of work, coauthors Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @mparts_

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