Solo self-employed are indispensable

Mann sitzt vor seinem Laptop und arbeitet

In a joint press release, the VGSD and the vbw – Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. (Bavarian Business Association) point to a study that proves how indispensable solo self-employed workers are for the German economy. Often discredited as “small, inefficient Krauter”, they fill gaps that open up in many companies. Thus, the most important reasons for using external experts are: they are quickly available, they can specifically cover a temporary need and they bring specific know-how that is lacking in the company’s own employees.

Why are solo self-employed so important?

“Digitalisation, demographic change, decarbonisation and ever new crises require flexibility and speed from companies and administration. Solo self-employed workers and other external experts make a crucial contribution to meeting these challenges,” says vbw CEO Bertram Brossardt on the results of the study “The use of solo self-employed workers and members of external companies in German companies”.

Crucial for successful transformation and crisis management.

“Four out of ten companies that hire solo self-employed workers use them in IT; for employees of external service providers it is three out of ten. In the companies where they work, more modern technologies have been integrated into work processes in the last two years than elsewhere. The effectiveness and thus competitiveness of the client companies has thus increased and jobs have become more secure,” explains VGSD board member Andreas Lutz.

In the companies that use solo self-employed workers, there is a targeted division of labour between solo self-employed workers and the employees of larger service providers. The latter are more likely to implement established technologies such as cloud applications, digital sales tools (e.g. CRM), big data analyses or even modern additive manufacturing processes (3D printing). Solo self-employed workers, however, are quicker to embrace even the latest technologies. For example, their use is highly significantly associated with the introduction of artificial intelligence or virtual reality.

Legal uncertainty slows down German companies

“The rapid implementation of new technologies is a prerequisite for being able to react quickly to the necessary change as well as crises and thus to secure jobs and prosperity in Germany. The rapid development of artificial intelligence could result in the loss of many skilled jobs. Just as many will be created, often more qualified and better paid ones. But it cannot be taken for granted that these will also be created in Germany. We solo self-employed can make a decisive contribution to this, but we must also be allowed to do so,” says VGSD board member Andreas Lutz.

According to the study, the biggest obstacles to the use of solo self-employed workers include legal uncertainties with a share of 35 percent and high compliance requirements with a share of 28 percent. Lutz says: “For almost ten years, the sword of Damocles has hovered over highly qualified solo self-employed workers, and their clients are threatened with high penalties. This uncertainty makes it more difficult to use solo self-employed workers and leads to innovative projects increasingly taking place abroad. Solo self-employed workers and external experts are important for the entire German economy. They are wrongly under general suspicion. There is a danger that the existing legal uncertainty will slow down digitalisation and transformation in Germany at this point. “We have to take countermeasures here,” Brossardt concluded.

Study links on the topic of solo self-employment

Complete study “The use of solo self-employed workers and contractors in German companies”:

Summary essay “IW-Trends: Solo-Selbstständige und Werkvertragsbeschäftigte als Katalysatoren des digitalen Wandels in deutschen Unternehmen”:

Video with statements by Prof. Michael Hüther, Director of the IW, and further information

You want to know more about solo self-employment? Then these are your contacts:

* Contact VGSD: Dr Andreas Lutz, Chairman of the Board, Tel. 089/5165 7980,
* Contact vbw: Maximilian Stoib, Tel. 089/551 78-335, e-mail:
* Contact IW Köln: Dr Oliver Stettes, Tel. 0221/4981-697, E-Mail:

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