UAE’s freelancing sector is expected to experience significant growth - GulfToday

UAE’s freelancing sector is expected to experience significant growth

Global skills shortage anticipated to leave 85.2 million jobs unfilled by 2030.

Global skills shortage anticipated to leave 85.2 million jobs unfilled by 2030.

Sajjad Ahmad, Deputy Business Editor

Dubai: The UAE’s freelancing sector is expected to experience significant growth, driven by a global skills shortage anticipated to leave 85.2 million jobs unfilled by 2030, notably in sectors like finance and business services. This gap presents a substantial opportunity for skilled talent offering specialised services, flexibility, and agility that traditional employment cannot match, said Azeem Zainulbhai, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer at Outsized.

Outsized is a talent-on-demand platform for large enterprise clients and consulting firms in Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.

Speaking to Gulf Today during an interview, Zainulbhai said, “To address this challenge, platforms like Outsized play a crucial role in connecting businesses with independent professionals for skill-based contractual project. For instance, an insurance company or bank lacking in-house expertise for digital transformation can easily find skilled talent that matches their requirements, such as data scientists or UI/UX designers, through such platforms.”

Praising the UAE’s innovative approach, He added, “With initiatives like UAE Industry 4.0 that underscore the need for specialised skills, on-demand talent is vital in driving innovation and economic competitiveness. They not only address the skills gap but also promote collaboration and knowledge exchange, enabling UAE businesses to remain agile and responsive. The conducive environment for the freelance sector in the UAE is set to expand further, offering a resilient and adaptive solution to the evolving market demands.”

“The UAE’s freelance market, particularly rich in technology and innovation, offers enormous opportunities for skilled independent professionals. According to Outsized’s Talent-on-Demand 2023 report, technological advancements in the MENA region are projected to significantly impact the economy. The region’s digital economy is poised for substantial growth, potentially reaching over $140 billion by 2031. This growth is largely driven by the UAE’s ambition to become a global technology, fintech, and entrepreneurship hub, creating high demand for skilled talent in technology, project management, risk and compliance, business transformation, data analytics, cybersecurity, and sales. Additionally, the UAE’s focus on building a knowledge-based economy and its investments in e-commerce and smart cities further enhance prospects for talent with expertise in these fields, offering them a chance to play a crucial role in the nation’s economic development and innovation landscape.”

About the growth of Mena region freelance sector, Zainulbhai added, “In the MENA region, the freelance economy is experiencing significant growth, indicating a shift towards a more decentralised and flexible labour market. Some of the key trends include -

Resilience: In response to economic uncertainties, companies are focusing on resilience through robust cash flow, accessible credit, and agile business models.

Agility: The need for agility, despite ongoing economic uncertainties, is fuelling the demand for flexible, skilled freelancers to swiftly adapt to market changes.

Connectivity: Independent consultants are increasingly seeking community, joining platforms like Outsized for peer interaction, upskilling, and networking opportunities.

Explaining the freelancing’s evolution, he noted, “Freelancing’s evolution from a low-value, transactional work model to a high-value, skill-intensive career choice is reflective of broader economic and technological shifts. The global move towards flexible, agile workforces and the rising demand for specialized skills have significantly contributed to this transformation. High growth economies and industries increasingly value the agility and expertise freelancers bring, moving away from traditional employment models. The rise of digital platforms like Outsized has made it easier for skilled professionals to find work, collaborate, and market their skills globally.”

Additionally, the pandemic underscored the value of freelancers, as businesses sought out their strategic thinking and in-demand skills for interim leadership and project-based work. This progression has been instrumental in transforming freelancing into a credible and influential career option. It now appeals to an expanding demographic of professionals eager for the autonomy, diversity in assignments, and the potential for lucrative returns that project-based work offers.”

For a sustainable independent talent market, Zainulbhai suggested, “To foster a fair and sustainable independent talent market, companies should focus on transparency and equal treatment for talent. Platforms like Outsized ensure competitive rates that reflect the freelancer’s expertise and advocate for industry standards to protect the rights of all the parties involved. Stakeholders, including business leaders and industry associations, play a pivotal role in implementing these measures to ensure a balanced and thriving freelance ecosystem.”

Highlighting the potential challenges and emerging opportunities, he concluded,“ The future of work presents significant opportunities for both businesses and professionals. For businesses, embracing freelance talent models offers access to specialised expertise on a flexible basis, allowing for efficient resource allocation and reduced overhead costs. Additionally, the rise of freelancing enables organisations to innovate with new project structures and workflows, fostering greater efficiency and creativity. The current challenge in the MENA region is to build an infrastructure that supports independent careers. The aim is to make the role of an independent professional aspirational, achievable, and rewarding. This involves advocating for and empowering these professionals, not just in matching them to projects, but in helping them succeed in their independent careers and change their relationship with work.”

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