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High-Skill Tech Freelancers Are Having a Moment

by Elijah
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High-Skill Tech Freelancers Are Having a Moment

Technology companies do used to rely on freelancers to keep up with the changes, but in 2023 the pace accelerated thanks to generative AI – and there are no signs of slowing down.

LinkedIn’s latest “Future of work” The report, published in November 2023, shows that 55 percent of LinkedIn members worldwide are at risk of having their work disrupted or augmented by generative AI. The skills the average LinkedIn member needs to do their job will change by 65 percent by 2030, the platform estimates. For those in tech jobs, the goalposts continue to move. The skills gap is widening.

This is happening against the backdrop of massive layoffs. Some 240,000 workers in the global tech sector have been laid off since the start of 2023 – a 50 percent increase from last year, according to tracker Fired.fyi. Many laid-off workers have joined the freelance ranks, accelerating an existing shift toward self-employment driven by the Great Resignation and the post-pandemic reprioritization of work-life balance.

The net result is that tech companies of all sizes are adapting to a more blended workforce and leaning on freelancers like never before. But they’re not just looking for contractors they can work with on one task or project. Instead, tech companies want highly qualified employees who can fit into and even lead teams and who can work for the company long-term. So top freelancers now have the upper hand in the seller’s market. The growing availability of highly qualified and highly specialized independent workers marks a new chapter for the technology industry.

This market shift is being met by new freelancer hiring platforms that serve as forward-thinking intermediaries for Europe’s workforce. With intensive monitoring processes and team building tools, platforms such as A team, MaltAnd Pangea.app meet the changing needs of technology companies while empowering top freelancers. Provided the prestige of freelancing continues to rise and business practices continue to reflect the importance of contractors, current signs point to a golden age for freelancing.

The mixing

The tech sector’s dependence on self-employed workers is not new: Startups in particular have relied on contract workers, using them to quickly build teams tailored to the specific needs of a project while reducing fixed labor costs. However, the contextual backdrop and the sheer number of companies currently embracing a blended workforce represents a turning point. The average UK company’s workforce now consists of 58 percent full-time employees and 42 percent freelancers and part-time workers (21 percent each). According to the Workforce Marketplace, 96 percent of companies say they have enabled or will enable freelance support by 2023. Fiverr.

By tapping into freelance talent, companies can circumvent self-imposed hiring freezes or shortages of available full-time workers. Contractors can also be a way to bypass difficult recruitment processes: time-to-hire is increased year after year since before the pandemic, with hiring times for technical roles ranging from 29 to 66 days on average.

But more importantly, freelancers can fill expertise gaps that are opening up at breakneck speed. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, 41 percent of employers plan to expand the use of contractors for specialty work. According to data from LinkedInjob postings mentioning AI have doubled on the platform in the past two years, and Fiverr data shows that searches for AI consultants and AI video editors increased by more than 625 percent between January and July 2023. Digital and cybersecurity freelancers are also very popular.

Build it and they will come

Finding these types of highly qualified employees and teams can be hard work – and that’s where third-party platforms come into the picture. But unlike crowdwork platforms like PeoplePerHour and Upwork – which have a saturated market of freelancers offering low-cost services – the new breed of freelance-to-hire platforms are designed for business use and offer the crème de la cream of freelance talent. Pangea.app started connecting student workers at companies, but has since specialized in bridging gaps for highly skilled software developers, often for long-term relationships. Fiverr, itself a crowdwork platform, launched Fiverr Pro in August, aiming to support tech companies following major layoffs.

“As soon as freelancers apply, we vet and manage them. Everyone needs to provide the right quality and reliability, because companies don’t have time to sort through thousands of profiles,” said Shai-Lee Spigelman, Managing Director of Fiverr Pro. Since its launch, Spigelman says tens of thousands of companies have used Fiverr Pro, including PolyAI, SimilarWeb, Unilever and the Rainforest Alliance. Next, it wants to attract top talent in growing areas such as AI, business consulting and 3D rendering for architects.

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