What qualities are companies looking for in independent experts?

Flexibility, specialization, efficiency …

Over the past decade, self-employment has grown by more than 40% in Spain, reaching 753,000 professionals. A significant increase due to the growing competitiveness and the digitalization of the market, which has favored the opening of the commercial fabric to this type of profiles, which help to promote innovation through direct contact with the most avant-garde technologies , their adaptability and their focus on results. When it comes to integrating them, the needs that companies most often seek to cover are, according to these experts, flexibility (82%), specialization or specific skills (80%) and efficiency (62 %).

This emerges from the report “ Freelance Panorama in Europe 2021 ”, prepared by Malt in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and which, after three years, analyzes for the first time this new workforce at European level through the opinions of more than 2,300 independents in France, Germany and Spain. More specifically, the report analyzes the situation of what the European Forum of Independent Professionals (EFIP) classifies as I-Pros, highly qualified and specialized independent professionals in the ICT sector who now number more than 3 million in the three countries analyzed. .

“As forerunners of new ways of working (agility; continuous learning, values-driven), independent experts act as catalysts for the digital transformation of companies and the new working model. An interesting prospect given that more than 75% of Employees surveyed by BCG after the first period of closure in Europe consider that digital is a priority for their company to win in the new reality and think that their company should invest more in new ways of working, ”says Vinciane Beauchene, Managing Director & Partner of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

For his part, Vincent Huguet, CEO & co-founder of Malt affirms that “if freelancers have experienced a slowdown in their activity in recent months, we have seen a rebound in external projects even before the end of the first lockdown, especially under the effect companies wanting to accelerate their digital transformation projects Companies are realizing that it is the skills and capacities of independent consultants that they need more than ever.

Unlike workers in the GIG economy, in which they are often poorly supervised, 86% of independent Spanish talent economy consultants are satisfied with their work and three in four (74%) would no longer work as permanent employees. , while 97% have previous experience as an employee in a company.

Precisely, one of the labor market trends that is gaining strength is the concept of “agency”, which defines the decision-making capacity of people, in particular professionals, which is confirmed by the results of the study. Thus, among the main motivations of freelancers to undertake their careers alone were not the “lack of opportunities” or a “meantime”, but the ability to freely manage their time (79%), to decide on their professional development ( 69%) and the choice of their place of work (78%). Today, eight in ten (81%) say they feel valued for their projects; a figure higher than the European average (70%).

Asked about the main challenges they face in their daily life, the Spanish freelancers highlight, among other things, access to social security (65%) and housing (55%). A situation derived from the fact that, when working alone, these types of professionals are still often perceived as “unstable”, although their accounts are. These obstacles are aggravated by the problem of negotiating with clients, the main obstacle for 68% of independent Spanish and European experts.

40 years old, male, six years of experience and living in Madrid or Barcelona

In Spain, the average age of independent professionals is 40 years, a figure very close to the average of the three countries analyzed (41 years) and they have an average experience of 6 years as independent consultants. In terms of location, while remote work is part of the DNA of freelancers, 8 out of 10 live in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​close to their clients and their professional networks.

By sector, three specialties represent 85% of independent Spanish consultants: Image and Sound and Graphic Design (37%), Tech & Data, which brings together professionals such as developers, Data Scientists or DevOps (27%) and experts in Communication and Marketing (21%). Professionals prepared for what, according to the “ Future of Jobs ” report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), will be the new jobs that will be created in 2025, mainly related to disciplines such as Big Data, Cloud Computing, AI or e-commerce, among others.

Clear upward trend in female presence

In terms of gender, in Spain, the male presence is still much higher than that of women, since two independent consultants out of three are men (66%). However, the gender gap is not a typical obstacle in our country, since in Europe the percentage of men reaches 65%. While it is true that there is still a long way to go in this regard, the study shows a clear upward trend in female presence since 2016, with increases reflected in virtually all sectors. The largest increases were led by project managers and agile coaches, with 30% women in 2020 (23% in 2016) and the field of graphics and web design, in which 50% of independent consultants are already women, compared to 40% in 2016.

Experts in agile methodologies and more than 6 hours per week in training

66% of freelancers practice agile working methods and, especially in Spain, they are used to working from home since 69% were already teleworking before giving birth. A considerably higher percentage than those of France (59%) and Germany (45%), but this does not mean a disconnection of their customers since, according to the study, they spend 15% of their working day in company offices to those who work. The remaining 16% do it themselves or in spaces such as coworkings.

In addition, in the case of the Spaniards, they devote 6.5 hours per week to individual training, essential to continue to develop their skills and thus be able to meet the demands of a constantly changing environment where talent quickly becomes obsolete. To do this, they mainly use books, videos and other traditional training modalities (75%), learning platforms (56%) and professional seminars (32%).

In a context where the average lifespan of a skill is 5 years, the learning capacity of companies and individuals has become a differential factor for adapting, innovating and taking advantage of the opportunities of the new reality: ” organizations they must change their learning culture to gain a competitive advantage. The practical organization of corporate learning must be completely reinvented, in a highly digitalized and hyper-connected scenario, it is necessary to create ecosystems, communities learning where people can acquire new knowledge that they can immediately apply to their work by interacting with experts in their organization or external collaborators, such as I-Pro and other freelancers who, due to the time required ” they invest in their own training, are experts in many fields, in particular those related to digital skills and x new ways of working, ”says Pablo Claver, Partner at Boston Consulting Group, Head of the People and Organization team at BCG Iberia.

In addition to the launch of this study, Vincent Huguet, CEO and founder of Malt and an expert from the Organization and People team of the Boston Consulting Group, will discuss and share their ideas regarding the different trends presented in the study and how companies will integrate independent talent in the years to come to face different market challenges.

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