Mathias Linnemann: The UK talent shortage – it’s not what it seems



UK businesses are struggling from a talent shortage in the traditional workforce.


And it could be the best thing that has happened to your business in a long time.


Seems contradictory? Allow me to explain why.


There’s no doubt that the talent shortage issue is alive and well in the traditional workforce. In fact, 45 per cent of mid-sized organisations report that they are struggling to attract the right skills to their business, while 23 per cent of small businesses are feeling the pinch too.


IT is the most in-demand skill-set across industries. According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), employers across the UK’s major tech hubs ofLeeds, Manchester and London are the most pessimistic about their ability to attract talented tech workers.


And the need for IT skills is not decreasing any time soon. A Future of Work report by the Consumer Technology Association revealed that 92 per cent of employers said they will need more employees with technical skills in the future. Adding to that, companies fear that the talent shortage problem will only get worse once – or if – Brexit is finalised.

Feeling depressed yet? But the good news is, there’s no need to.


Because while there might be a talent shortage in the traditional workforce, the flexible workforce, consisting of freelancers, independent consultants, and contractors, is booming.


Unlimited and untapped talent in the freelance economy


Since 2009, the freelance economy in the UK has grown by 25 per cent and generates an estimated £109bn a year. And according to the Office for National Statistics, flexible workers now account for around 15 per cent of the working population in the UK.


These flexible workers work in project-based roles and provide their skills to companies to solve a specific task. They often work on-site and on project teams alongside full-time workers.


Unlike ‘gigsters’, who usually work on smaller and less complex tasks, it’s particularly the highly skilled and well-educated, who choose to freelance, according to an IPSE study. And freelancers with competencies in IT are leading the way.


Consequently, more UK employers are sourcing talent from the flexible workforce. REC indicates that as many as 87 per cent of UK employers intend to increase or maintain their use of flexible workers in the next three months.


And there’s good reasons to do so.


UK companies need to be agile to stay competitive


In today’s ever-changing business world, it’s crucial to be agile if you’re to stay competitive. UK companies are constantly faced with new challenges and opportunities that they have to respond to. And if you don’t have the skills you need at hand, you’re already behind the competition.


This is why freelancers are so valuable and convenient for any business today. Freelancers provide fast and instant access to relevant skills and agility in the face of a turbulent business environment.


Most UK companies know all too well that reacting to changing demands and market trends quickly can make the difference between success and failure.

By bringing in flexible workers when they’re needed – who can hit the ground running instantly without time-consuming onboarding and training –  your company can save both time and money.


You might think hiring freelancers is just a temporary solution until permanent positions can be filled. But that’s not quite the case.


Freelancers can push your business ahead of competition


Numerous studies have shown that the shift towards using freelance workers as a strategic asset can help push a company ahead of the competition. For example, one study revealed that the most successful businesses use flexible workers more often  and more strategically than low performing businesses.


This is not to say that permanent employees are no longer valuable to your company. They are tremendously valuable. But so are freelancers.


You have to identify what roles, projects, and tasks are better fitted for a freelancer over a permanent employee.


As a rule of thumb, whenever the role is ongoing, fairly broad in scope, and requires consistent presence, you should choose to hire a permanent employee.


But whenever the role is time-limited, specific, and project-dependent, you should hire a freelancer.


Tapping into the freelance workforce has the big benefit of mixing the skills available to your company, which can help you swiftly adapt to changing customer preferences.


So, where can I find the best freelancers out there?


Recruitment technology such as online marketplaces can give your company fast access to highly skilled freelancers with skills in IT, project management, sales and marketing, and more in an instant.


These online marketplaces use advanced algorithms to do the matching, which makes the sourcing process fast, easy, and more efficient.


They also take care of all the hassle, including contract, billing, and payment, so you can get straight to work.


If your company uses freelancers frequently, it’s also a good idea to look for an online marketplace that also offers your company a freelance management system. With such a system, you can manage both existing and new freelancers all in one place.


So, don’t panic about the talent shortage in the traditional workforce. See it as an opportunity to make your business more agile and nimble.


Here’s one last question for you…  thinking about all that untapped potential that the freelance economy holds – do you still believe there’s a talent shortage?


By Mathias Linnemann


Mathias Linnemann is a Co-founder of, a UK-based marketplace for companies seeking to hire professional freelancers and contractors. Mathias heads up Worksome’s growth, marketing and sales. He is an X-Googler, an international speaker, appointed member of the Danish Government’s board for the sharing economy, debater, panelist and podcast host. Mathias is Danish and currently lives with his family in London.



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