The 2012/07/09 at 08:00
They are gaining ground. In a country dominated by industry – 24 % of the GDP –, self-employed professionals are growing in number. From 705,000 in 2000, they have gone over the one million mark this year. Increasing by 4.3 % compared with 2011, there are today 1.19 million lawyers, doctors, but also artists and chartered accountants who account for 10.1 % of the national GDP.
This boom can be explained as much by the rise in the number of young people doing tertiary studies (46 % compared with 26 % twelve years ago) as by simplified business creation procedures introduced by the employment market reform taking place at the start of the 2000s. While the bulk is still made up of health professionals, including 124,000 doctors, three other groups are emerging: lawyers – almost as numerous as doctors –, chartered accountants and other tax consultants, then artists who make up almost one-quarter of numbers, and finally, to a lesser extent (18 %), engineers and technical consultants. All categories are rising although, given demographic evolutions, health professionals have seen their ranks thicken the most: over 5.8 % within one year!
Another sign of the times, tax and financial specialists have recorded, over the same period, a 4.5 % progression. “The financial and economic crises are stimulating the demand for reliable quality services,” observes Rolf Koschorrek, President of the BFB (Bundesverband der Freien Berufe), the national federation for self-employed professionals.
The President of the BFB is optimistic about the development of self-employed professions that are opening up to more new fields of activity. “In the fully evolving energy branch, our members, whether they have skills in law, technology or process planning, are going to be able to find new forms of services,” he foresees.
These professions are not only gaining in importance in the Germany economy, but are also playing a fundamental role in employment, with a factor of 2.33 employees per person practising under this status. In all, 2.78 million people – 3 % more than in 2010 – find work in these small structures as secretaries, assistants, but also technicians and office workers.
Unfortunately, like all businesses, self-employed professionals have not been spared by a lack in qualified labour and the shortage in apprentices. The number of the latter has even slightly diminished in the last two years, highlighting a tendency urging Rolf Koschorrek to make the following demand: “Overseas recruitment procedures need to be facilitated for self-employed professionals. Public authorities must smooth out difficulties so that we can recruit on overseas employment markets.” One of the BFB’s projects will be to encourage politicians to set up interest-free loan programmes to finance house moves and language lessons in order to promote the mobility of overseas candidates.