UK Umbrella Company pros contracting in engineering or IT might consider a sojourn in Europe if they speak German: new figures from European contractor recruitment specialists GULP reveal unprecedented growth in demand for independent professionals freelancing in these fields across the German-speaking countries.

Over the first half of 2014, the number of requests for engineering and IT contractors received by GULP hit 86,441, comfortably exceeding the record high of 83,606 requests the company received in the first six months of 2013. The figures both represent a pronounced departure from the steady rate of 72,000 requests for the last five years (2009-13). Requests for IT and engineering contractors were 20% above the average during the first six months of 2014.

GULP’s marketing director, Stefan Symanek, said that growing numbers of firms across Austria, Germany and Switzerland were increasing the frequency with which they hired independent experts. He explained: “The are many reasons for this; on the one hand IT and engineering freelancers bring know-how and specialised expertise. They secure the competitiveness of their clients and are often a driver of innovation. On the other hand, external specialists allow companies the opportunity to handle peaks in demand, while remaining flexible. Freelancers are a flexible and highly-qualified answer to the skills shortage in IT and engineering. They are happy to be freelancers and do so voluntarily.”

Contractors offering SAP skills experienced the greatest demand in these countries at 16.7% of the total, although demand was also high for skills in Java (12.4% of the total), C++ (8.8%), Windows (8.4%) and Linux (6.2%).

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