According to Statista, there are about 3.2 million freelancers in Spain. Individuals who are registered as “autonomo” in Spain represent about 16% of the population and it is estimated that, of these, approximately one third are independent professionals engaged in tech, marketing services, and management consulting.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) of the UN, points out that Spanish gigsters support the Spanish service sector e.g., delivery, task activity, and transportation. However, there is much to suggest that professional categories of freelance work are growing as a percentage of total freelancing and gig work and have risen appreciably post-Covid.
The WEF, for example, points out Spanish growth in the tech and marketing services areas, and increased activity in independent management consulting. As the WEF mentioned in another recent report, supply-demand gaps in critical skills like AI are also driving increases in freelance utilization across the EU.
With the help of Ana Kramarenko, Marketing Manager at Outvise, a leading Spanish independent management consulting platform, it seemed timely to share the views of Spanish freelance marketplace leaders on the state and tempo of freelancing in España. Overall, freelance leaders are generally upbeat about the future of freelancing, both within Spanish industry and externally as freelance talent is exported through remote work to countries around the globe. But, while there seems to be good progress overall, helped by more supportive legislation, one CEO pointed out the need for cultural evolution in management practice for freelancing to gain enterprise ground.
Here is what leaders had to say:
How do you see the freelance revolution progressing in Spain? What is your forecast for growth in 2024? What are the areas of greatest Spanish freelance interest and activity?
Eusebi Llensa, CEO Outvise.com. “By 2030 there will be a shortage of 85 million tech workers globally and countries like Spain (with tech salaries 40% cheaper than salaries in key competing tech hubs) are an amazing source of on-demand talent. High-end freelance talent from Spain is on the rise. We are experiencing solid growth, focused on business tech, with a consolidated footprint across Germany, Spain, and the middle East where tech transformation creates a huge demand of expertise which we source globally. From Barcelona, through our local presence in Dubai and selected partners we help connect freelancers with top opportunities while we clear any red tape.”
Jaime Castillo, Co-founder Shakers (Shakersworks.com). “In Spain, the presence of freelancers is increasingly notable. At Shakers, we refer to them as “free workers,” experienced professionals who want to work independently on projects that align with their values and where they can make a difference with their contributions. The revolution is unstoppable with growth increasingly linked to “digital transformation”, and to the need for remote, hybrid teams with a high capacity for innovation and project execution. Many large Spanish companies face challenges that need fast solutions, and free workers will be key to accelerating those and making a difference in 2024. At Shakers, we are enhancing our platform and making a strong commitment to connecting companies with free working professionals able to take their business to the next level.”
Jacobo Bermudez De Castro, GM Malt.com Spain. “Spanish companies increasingly recognize the value of freelancers and are turning to freelancers' marketplaces as the optimal solution to tap into this vast pool of talent. This shift reflects a positive outlook on the evolution of independent talent professionals in Spain. As Spanish companies embrace the potential of freelancers, the nature of conversations with our clients has evolved significantly. It's no longer a matter of hiring individual freelancers for ad hoc projects but instead, a strategic shift towards integrating freelancers into the core business model. Spanish enterprises are asking, “How do we build a strategy around freelancers in our company? More and more, Procurement, HR, and hiring managers are developing talent strategies that incorporate freelancers. While still in early days, it is indeed a positive sign. Information Technology (IT) and Data Science, Consulting, Design, and Marketing categories generate the most enthusiasm and participation among our freelancers and clients.”
Sandra Arevalo, Co-founder Wisar.pro. “Despite workers' increased interest in exploring more flexible work schemes through freelancing, local legislation and company culture still need to evolve to boost a significant shift in Spain. After the gains post-COVID with hybrid schemes, many companies are focusing their efforts on bringing workers back to the office full-time. If that trend continues in 2024, Spanish companies must move the needle towards a real digital transformation and be more willing to accommodate flexible work arrangements that more deeply incorporate freelancing.”
Juan Francisco Mejía Betancourt, CEO Wokiconsulting.com. “Spain is the gateway to Latin America from Europe, and at the same time it is the gateway out of the region. Spain's investment and trade in Latin America in 2023 is growing much more than previous years. This is a great opportunity for freelancer platforms, as businesses are looking for opportunities in this region and want to be more efficient with their external talent. Areas such as digital transformation, management and strategy, sustainability, and foreign trade are areas where we see great growth and where we can have an impact.”
Arnaud Sourisseau, Founder and Ignacio Marinas, Partner Onemansupport.com (Spain). “The freelance landscape has seen remarkable growth in Spain lately, reflecting the global trend of professionals seeking independence and flexibility, although its development is far less than other European countries. In recent years, Spain has witnessed a surge in freelancers with approximately 3 million people engaged in freelance work. This growth can be attributed to the rise of digital platforms like ours, increased connectivity, and changing work preferences. The Spanish government has also introduced measures to support freelancers, such as simplifying tax regulations and providing access to social security benefits. The freelancing landscape in Spain is poised to accelerate its growth in the coming years. Freelancing platforms will likely expand, and hybrid work models that combine in-house and freelance talent may grow in use and prominence. Key areas of interest in Spain's freelancing sector encompass digital services, data analytics, IT support, consulting, healthcare and sustainable industries. Notably, the landscape is expected to surge for highly qualified freelancers with specialized expertise. These professionals, often possessing advanced qualifications and experience, are ready to meet the growing demand for premium freelance services.”
Ignacio (Iggy) Garcia Leon, CEO Squad.xyz. “Many tech freelancers, especially from Venezuela and Argentina, are relocating to Spain for a better quality of life while working remotely. They share a common language and cultural affinity and appreciate Spain's relative political stability. One example: a Venezuelan freelancer who does US based projects and earns $140k/year, allowing a comfortable life in Spain. More Spaniards recognize the lucrative opportunities in freelancing for US-based companies, and talented Spaniards are increasingly able to secure high-paying and engaging tech project gigs. Spanish freelancers are also starting to earn both equity and cash. This trend is made possible by blockchain technology, with crypto-native companies and DAOs using tokens that resemble equity. Many freelancers in our network opt for payment in traditional currency (dollars, euros, stable coins) and project-specific crypto tokens.”
There is broadly shared opinion that the Spanish freelance community is growing overall and expanding the rexpertise offered. Remote work opportunities in the US provide both financial and other benefits. As the reputation for excellence grows, Spanish freelancers are increasingly sought in neighboring countries and regions such as the Middle East where Outvise and others describe meaningful opportunity. A number of CEOs also pointed out the positive impact of hybrid and remote work arrangements on the growth of freelancing.
Of course, there is more to Spain and Spanish freelancing than economic opportunity, as Luis Suarez, co-founder of Asynco, a startup in stealth mode, makes clear. He has the final word on the growth of freelancing in Spain:
“Spain may not have a rather large % of freelancers, but the potential for growth is gigantic. The stunning telecommunications networks, the generous infrastructure to move around anywhere and everywhere, the overall quality of life, the open service-friendly, culture, the welcoming people, the food, the flexibility and the freedom to slow down are all certainly great opportunities to discover what Spain has got to offer every freelance knowledge (Web) worker out there. If you are aiming at a life-changing adventure, Spain is it. Today.”
Viva la revolution!