IT Freelancing Trends & Insights 2020

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Traditional forms of work are becoming less and less popular. Instead, remote work and freelancing have taken over as more powerful alternatives and are quickly shaping the future of work with more people starting their own businesses. So what can freelancers expect in 2020?


Our freelancers spoke up:

“The biggest trend will pertain to further expansion of freelancing across all the industries due to tech advancement and the opportunities it brings with it. Plus, most businesses that seek a permanent online presence will need specialists working with data. This will create vacancies for remote work and increase demand for freelancers’ service as well.“

Content marketer

“With the current digital transformation, freelancing will be legally better off for both freelancers and companies.“

Business analyst

What are the freelancing trends to expect in 2020 within the IT industry? – Table of content

  1. IT talent shortage
  2. Remote work
  3. Increased Freelance rates
  4. Processes and strategies
  5. Emerging Industries: AI, IT security, Cloud
  6. Programming: Java, JavaScript, Python
  7. Conclusion

IT Talent Shortage throughout Europe

Companies around Europe are struggling to find IT professionals with relevant experience to join their teams. According to the Joint Employment Report 2020 by the European Commission, labor shortages remain substantial in the EU, with countries that report low unemployment especially suffering from this shortage.

study by Bitkom (Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media in Germany), showed that in November 2019, 124,000 vacancies were open for IT specialists in Germany (51% more than in 2018).

But Germany is not alone in this regard. The shortage of tech professionals is an increasing concern for all Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway – as well.

Every unfilled IT position costs sales, burdens companies’ growth and slows down the necessary digital transformation. Ultimately, this is a threat to the competitiveness of the entire country and the UE.

This is, of course, an opportunity for IT freelancers that can be recruited much faster and are also able to start on a project more efficiently thanks to their expertise and past experience. Companies will need to open up to hiring freelance IT experts to overcome the shortage and to keep growing.

In Germany, the demand will further increase heavily resulting in rising prices. In the Netherlands, there is a downward trend as well since more employees have decided to become self-employed.Program manager

Remote work & Mixed Workforce in Organizations

Remote work acceptance varies depending on countries and industries. Digital industries are better suited to remote work but some argue that other industries may not benefit from this flexible way of work.

If we just focus on the  IT industry, we see that developers and IT professionals are demanding this flexibility (at least part-time). See that Buffer’s remote work report shows that 98% of the people said they would like to work at least some of the time remotely.

Over 90 percent of people would like to work remotely
Buffer – State of Remote Report 2020

This movement is especially embraced by parents who need this flexibility of working from home to combine their career with childcare and home life. Ultimately, flexibility is also one of the main reasons why freelancers start their own businesses (so said 35% of the surveyed freelancers in our freelancermap study).

Customers should allow flexible time scheduling and remote work to help freelancers focus on their projects.

SAP Logistics Consultant

Freelance Rates Increase

With their expertise and flexibility, freelancers effectively counter the shortage of skilled workers and with this high demand for freelancers, their hourly rates are expected to continue to rise.

According to our freelancer study, freelancers working in the IT consulting field were charging on average $115 / hour worldwide in 2019, followed by SAP experts with an average hourly rate of $104.

The survey also showed that 44% of all surveyed freelancers were planning to increase their rates in 2020.

Freelancer hourly rate development in 2020 statistics freelance survey
Freelance hourly rate development – freelancermap Freelancer survey 2019

Companies adapting Processes and Strategies

According to Buffers’s State of Remote Report 2020, one of the biggest struggles that people face when working remotely is collaboration and communication.

Biggest struggles remote work – Buffer remote report
Buffer State of Remote Report 2020 – Biggest struggle working remotely

Companies need to adapt their processes to communicate and deal with part-time workers, freelancers, and remote workers.

This will increase the use of tools such as time-tracking tools, performance management tools, and video conference tools. Furthermore, companies must manage contractors, freelancers and gig employees strategically and integrate them as a long-term solution in their company.

41% of respondents on the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report confirmed they are aware of the importance of integrating freelancers strategically to their company but only 28% said they were ready to address this issue.

The good news is that the same report shows that 75% of the surveyed respondents indicated that HR already supports the sourcing of alternative workers, and 51% said that their organization has specific plans to address recruitment strategies for this alternative workforce.

AI, IT security and cloud services increasingly important

According to our freelancer survey, self-employed people and freelancers think that the industries that will see a marked rise for this year are Artificial Intelligence (AI), IT security and Cloud Services.

Most relevant industries in 2020 – IT Freelancer suevey
Most relevant industries – Freelancer Survey 2019

Analyzing the search queries on freelancermap, we saw an increase of over 90% in the number of searches relating to AI. Additionally, searches for the term “Cloud” rose by 70%. This makes sense since cloud computing continues to expand as much more data is likely to be stored in the cloud in the following years.

And so, with the future of cloud storage, your risk of data hacking increases. Therefore it will be important to quickly deal with data breakdowns especially considering that 2019 saw a marked increase in cyberattacks. So no matter how small a company is, if it’s connected to the Internet, your data, projects, and devices are at risk. IT security specialist will play a key role in the following months.
 

We can expect further developments in Cybersecurity, Big Data automation, and AI, all of which will have a great impact on IT job roles.


Programming languages: JavaScript, Python and Java

Top programming languages in 2020 IT Freelancer suevey
Top programming languages according to freelancers – Freelancer Survey 2019

The responses from the freelancers in our freelancer study showed that the top 3 programming languages that will gain importance in the future will be:

  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • Python

This has been supported by the increase in searches on freelancermap relating to the above languages.

JavaScript is currently considered a top skill among freelance IT learners and it’s possible to find many JavaScript freelancers. The language enjoys great popularity with “JavaScript” being searched three times more on the freelancermap search than in 2018.

Java remains one of the top competencies of the self-employed. The programming language experienced a real upswing this year, with demand increasing by 115 percent – and this trend will continue in the future.

After last year’s big Python boom, the programming language continues to rise in relevance, despite growing more slowly than last year. While Python recorded an increase of 119 percent last year, the number of freelancermap search queries rose by 70 percent this year.

Further languages becoming increasingly important according to our freelancers are:

  • C#
  • SQL
  • PHP
  • Go
  • C++

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Conclusion: A great year for freelancers working in the IT field

Definitely! The IT sector expects to see good employment growth and freelancers definitely have a lot to offer to companies worldwide.

If you are just considering a career in IT or taking the leap into freelancing, go for it! Especially if you are an expert in cybersecurity, data science or generally a software developer.
 

“More people are grabbing the idea of freelance for various reasons. IT will see a major increase in freelancing. Even tutors for that matter.“

SQL and PL/SQL developer

Established freelancers shared their best tips for new freelancers who decide to take the leap into freelancing this year:

  • Have an financial cushion for hard times (enough to survive 3 – 6 months without income)
  • Inform yourself about taxes beforehand
  • Do, do, do. But work based on a strategy
  • Don’t start with too low prices. Make you valuable
  • Negotiate but don’t sell yourself cheap. Quality is expensive
  • Don’t limit your business with local clients. Search abroad, too
  • Level up your time management skills
  • Stay tuned and don’t get discouraged
Natalia Campana

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By Natalia Campana

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