Professionals are not  worried about the future

2023 was a turbulent year with runaway interest rates, high levels of inflation and increasing costs that impacted many companies and private individuals. Despite this, a full 80 percent of all freelance professionals in Ework Group’s market survey said that they were unwilling to give up life as a professional for permanent employment.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Ework Group conducted a market survey of companies, professionals and freelancers in its network. 1,297 anonymous respondents answered questions in six different areas ranging from how and where they work to what challenges and trends they are seeing in the market, legislative changes and cybersecurity. The largest proportion of respondents were freelancers and professionals, and the majority of those live and work in Sweden.

Not interested in changing their lifestyle

On the issue of whether the economic situation in 2023 made professionals consider getting a full-time job, 80 percent of professionals and freelancers stated that they were unwilling to do so. This strengthens the image of their confidence in the growing global skills economy which, according to the SIA report, “The Global Gig Economy 2023”, is predicted to continue growing exponentially in the years ahead. Company representatives were asked whether they had cut back on projects for financial reasons or if they had continued as usual despite an unstable economic cycle.
The responses from the companies varied: 52 percent stated that they had continued as usual while 36 percent set priorities and carried out only a few projects.

Skills shortage the main challenge among companies

In the survey, the respondents ranked the various challenges they felt were having the most impact on the market right now. The one that received the most points on a five-point scale was the skills shortage. The fact that the skills shortage in particular came out on top is not especially surprising. The skills shortage has been a burning question for many years, and is something that the World Economic Forum has repeatedly highlighted at Davos. In particular, it is affecting digitization, the green transition and electrification, all of which have changed rapidly in recent years. Digitization skills in particular were the skills that the respondents highlighted as most acute in the survey. 45 percent of the representatives from companies stated that they were concerned about having problems finding talent in 2024. At the same time, the survey shows that many companies offer retraining and skills development initiatives as part of the solution.

“In a time when companies are concerned about a skills shortage, our network has grown by 40 percent and now encompasses nearly 140,000 professionals and freelancers. In Case cont. Verama, our marketplace, professionals have access to all of our clients’ assignments, but they are also offered the opportunity, in partnership with Lexicon, to continue their education through discounted courses and certifications. In an environment where expertise is crucial, these professionals are well equipped for success,” says Karin Antonsson, Head of Service Lines.

The survey shows that 65 percent of professionals are not at all concerned as regards finding new assignments. This could explain why professionals are continuing to choose life as a professional over traditional employment, since there is still high demand for specific skills.

Flexibility a key factor in choosing the professional life

The “Future of Work” trend is continuing to undergo a paradigm shift, with remote working and flexibility as integral components in organizational structures. Our survey further reinforces this picture, which shows that the main reason that professionals choose the professional life is specifically the possibility of flexible work, as well as earning more money. When they select new assignments, however, remuneration was what they valued most highly. There was a visible difference here among women, who valued flexibility to a greater extent when selecting new assignments.

Highly trained professionals

There were 1,297 respondents to the market survey, and the degree of education among them was high. Over 90 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher, and most had over seven years of work life experience.

“The professionals in our network indicate a high level of confidence. Their extensive education and lengthy experience gives them a competitive edge that is a vital piece of the puzzle in an unsettled market.” Karin Antonsson, Head of Service Lines