Empowering the Freelance Economy

2022: experts reveal freelance market predictions

Runar Reistrup, CEO of freelancer job platform YunoJuno
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Recruitment and IR35 specialists outline their predictions and wishes for freelancers in the new year including:

  • most in-demand freelance services
  • rate rises
  • government policy impacts on independent workforce  

“We are seeing an unprecedented demand for freelancers in 2021 and we expect this trend to continue throughout 2022 and beyond,” Runar Reistrup, CEO of freelancer job platform YunoJuno told The Freelance Informer.

YunoJuno reported £500m in freelancer bookings in December 2021 with 100% growth in the year. Clients hiring freelancers on their platform include Google, BBC and Deliveroo.  The company supports sole traders, freelancers working through their own limited company and freelancers working through umbrella companies. It has 70,000 highly skilled freelancers on its platform, and 12,000 companies are using YunoJuno as a source of their agile labour force.

As the great resignation gathers momentum among existing talent, studies show that 50% of the future workforce about to enter the market prefer a flexible freelance career to a traditional career path, according to Reistrup.

“Companies in all sectors are finding that an agile and digitally native freelance workforce will be a key factor of their future success,” he said.

Companies are much more likely to understand that the best person for the job might not only prefer working freelance but also work remotely, said Reistrup. He added:

“Oftentimes the companies themselves prefer working with freelancers as the future challenges facing these companies require a new set of highly skilled people (developers, designers, project managers) and the work itself becomes more project-based and transient.

Most in-demand freelance skills and jobs

Freelancers on YunoJuno’s most in-demand categories include software developers, product designers, data scientists and project managers all of which have increased their rates by as much as 15%, said Reistrup.

The professional services sector is desperate for highly skilled and experienced talent. Professional services firms in the UK have warned of growing “white-collar” labour shortages as businesses fight it out for top talent amid the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Times reported.

Some City of London firms have even started to turn away work due to a lack of staff, according to business leaders.

As previously reported by The Freelance Informer (FI), interim vacancies will also continue to grow in 2022 as demand for flexible talent shows no signs of slowing down. According to data provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft, the retail, consumer goods and services sectors have the highest number of interim vacancies.

Rate rises will also see a boost in the new year, YunoJuno’s CEO predicts. He said that the freelance workforce has increased rates by 7% this year as a result of the Great Resignation, the subsequent increased demand for highly skilled and digitally native freelancers and the higher awareness of IR35 and its increased tax on earnings limited company director freelancers.

He said that the IR35 changes earlier this year have made it harder, not easier, for companies to work with the best freelancers without a “structured approach”.

“We have seen an influx in large and medium-sized companies realising that IR35 requires a partner for all their freelance needs that is fully compliant with UK tax regulation. We have invested heavily in building IR35 and employment law compliance into all aspects of the YunoJuno freelancer platform and that has really paid off,” said Reistrup.

“It asks a number of questions and classifies the freelance assignment as either inside or outside IR35 based on the facts. So, it’s neither the freelancer nor the client choice but an objective assessment,” he explained.

He said that some clients prefer freelancers to operate as their own limited companies, but most just want to work with the best freelancers and use YunoJuno to support them with the right compliance process for each type of freelancer. 

Government policy: how will it impact freelance jobs in 2022?

Dave Chaplin, Founder of IR35 Shield, told The Freelance Informer he has one wish he’d like to see come true for the freelance market in 2022:

“A realisation by Government that they should be oiling the wheels of small business, and not putting up barriers like IR35. And, then some action.”

Seb Maley, CEO of IR35 status checker and insurer Qdos, said that while IR35 reform and Covid have made 2021 another challenging year for contractors, in his opinion, independent workers can be “cautiously optimistic about 2022”.

He said: “The demand for flexible, skilled professionals remains high as businesses focus on recovering post-pandemic and more organisations are getting to grips with IR35 reform.”

“However, I’d like to see the government do much more to combat firms that continue to blanket place all contractors inside IR35. This is a non-compliant approach to managing IR35 reform and one that has led to thousands of genuinely self-employed contractors being taxed as employees, which is altogether unfair,” he said.

“In a wider sense, it’s also time the UK’s self-employed workforce was supported better by this government. For years, freelancers and contractors have been on the receiving end of short-sighted tax reforms which threaten the independent workforce rather than protect it and help it thrive. The government talks a lot about how supportive it is of those brave enough to strike out on their own, but action speaks louder than words.”

Seb Maley, CEO Qdos

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