Outlook on the project market in 2022 and the role of IT freelancers

The demand for IT specialists is increasing rapidly. The central drivers for this are the establishment of new forms of work, the development of digital business models and the progressive transformation. How will the project market develop in 2022 and what will become important to IT freelancers?

During the pandemic, many companies were not only able to learn about the advantages of digital tools and processes. It also became obvious how great the backlog is in certain areas in terms of digitization. Many of these gaps have since been closed.

For the IT project market, this is initially good news. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a closer look at market events in order to derive the right strategic decisions from them. 

Market study confirms positive interim balance

The project market clearly seems to have left the corona crisis behind. A recent market study conducted by Solcom confirmed this fundamentally positive development. Several aspects were examined, such as employment, the application process and hourly rates. In all these areas, significant improvements were recorded compared to the previous year. 

Respondents stated both that their situation has improved (41.4 percent) or remained at the same level (48.1 percent) and that an increase in project utilization is to be expected for the rest of the year. With a combined 52.2 percent, more than half of freelancers expected an improvement for the year as a whole.

And while many IT freelancers in the first year of the pandemic were concerned with getting a project at all (27.2 percent), only 13.5 percent say so. When choosing a project, the technical task and the hourly rate are even more decisive than in the previous year.

Outlook for the project market in 2022

However, the results of the market study not only documented the positive interim balance – it also provided valuable insights into the developments of the project market. From the perspective of IT freelancers, the increasing demand means more than ever the opportunity to select those projects that best suit their skills and abilities as well as their planning. 

There is also a significant shift in terms of spatial proximity. While last year 40.9 percent of respondents stated that this was a factor in the choice of project, in 2021 only 22.3 percent affirmed it. This shows that companies have already increasingly adapted to remote work and that proximity is no longer decisive for recruiting. 

At the same time, the increasing demand indicates that the search for skilled workers continues to be a challenge for companies. One consequence of this is that the need for long-term cooperation is increasing, especially on the part of large companies.

In particular, major customers are increasingly relying on personnel service providers who bring together both the technical know-how and the corresponding contractual framework conditions in order to staff projects reliably and safely.

Overall, the outlook for the project market shows that the prospects for IT freelancers are currently good and that this will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Because more than ever, it will be crucial for companies in the coming year to be able to access the expertise and expertise of IT freelancers. Legal certainty is becoming an increasingly important factor in recruitment. 

The role of IT freelancers and their expertise

When it comes to future success on the project market, freelancers in the IT industry in particular should be willing to expand their specialist knowledge in addition to professional expertise. The incorporation into new technologies on the one hand and the acquisition of methods for different forms of work on the other hand is therefore part of the standard. For IT freelancers, lifelong learning was and is one of the most important prerequisites for success in the project market.

In view of the increasingly complex technologies (such as artificial intelligence, data analytics or cloud computing), it is not only important to have technical skills. Rather, it is about ensuring that one’s own specialist knowledge is always up-to-date. In order to be able to meet the increasing demand for proven specialists in the project market, IT freelancers should constantly expand their expertise with further training. 

In the future, however, another characteristic will also be important: an increased degree of flexibility and the willingness to work in a wide variety of industries. In addition to the quantitatively increased demand already mentioned, a qualitative change can currently also be observed.

While in the years before the pandemic it was specific industries in which the IT freelancers were mainly used, today there is hardly an industry that has no need.

Agility and digitalization determine future viability

Especially the experience in the last one and a half years made it clear to the companies how important it is to implement projects quickly and reliably. Freelance IT specialists have proven to be indispensable. In addition to their professional expertise, freelancers bring something else to companies: agility. 

When it came to maintaining and expanding their own competitiveness in the context of pandemic-related restrictions for companies, it became clear how valuable the rapid availability of expertise and flexibility is. 

Even though the pandemic undoubtedly had a significant impact on the IT project market at the beginning and many projects came to a standstill, the realization of the role it freelancers have in the field of digital transformation has matured since then.

Agility and flexibility are often the key, not only when it comes to rapid market maturity or the short-term handling of complex technical challenges, but above all to the long-term safeguarding of one’s own competitiveness and future viability.

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