Freelancers buck EU trend of shrinking workforce

The number of independent professionals, commonly referred to as ‘freelancers,’ in the EU-28 rose by almost a quarter to 9.6m between 2008 and 2015, a study says.

It means that more people are ‘going it alone’ with a freelance venture in almost every EU member state, found the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

The largest number of new freelancers is in Western Europe (the UK, France and the Netherlands) which between them saw 1.2m more freelancers set up in the seven years to 2015.

“However, this growth is not confined to the largest member states,” said IPSE, pointing out that freelancing is gaining popularity fastest in some of the EU’s newer member states.

In fact, the association found an almost 200 per cent rise in the chunk of people freelancing in Latvia (in 2015 than in 2008), and more than twice as many in Romania and Slovenia.

Women and older people were found to make up a significant batch of the new freelancers, implying there has been a “change of attitude” by these traditionally atypical freelancers.

Also in its analysis, IPSE said that one million more women chose to work independently between 2008 and 2015 – compared with 900,000 additional men.

“Independent professionals are usually highly educated and in highly-skilled positions”, said IPSE’s CEO Chris Bryce.

“The biggest countries have the most established services sectors, so they’re naturally seeing the most new independent professionals. But the newer EU entrants are catching up fast. The trend towards working this way looks set to continue well into the future.”

Mr Bryce added that the trend towards freelancing was in spite of the conventional labour market stagnating - the EU workforce as a whole shrank from 223m in 2008 to 218m in 2015.

 

16th June 2016

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