Journalist and yoga instructor. Social media manager and festival organiser. Architect and certified tourist guide. For slash workers, people who put flexibility and autonomy at the very heart of their profession, these job pairs don't contradict each other at all. This phenomenon has developed as a result of freelance work, which grew by more than 13% in Europe between 2011-2015, compared to a 2% growth in employment overall. To shed more light on this category, Acta, The Italian Freelancer Association, has produced a report as part of the European I-Wire project, which involves eight member countries.
Statistically speaking, according to Istat data for 2017, there are 5.3 million self-employed workers In Italy and they account for 23% of employed people: 8 percent higher than the EU average of 15%. According to Eurostat, around 3.5 million of these identify as freelancers, i.e. self-employed people who earn a living providing their own services to external clients. However, these figures do not take into account the different kinds of work commitments that freelancers, out of passion or necessity, take on to make ends meet.
Highly educated, Italian freelancers are very often university graduates (76.5%) or even PhD students (20.2%) who have knowingly chosen to pursue this path
The 900 interviews compiled by Acta shed light on Italian freelancers and dispel some of the false myths about job insecurity.
Highly educated, Italian freelancers are very often university graduates (76.5%) or even PhD students (20.2%) who have knowingly chosen to pursue this path: only 11.5% provided a score of less than 6 (on a scale of 1 to 10) to indicate how satisfied they are with their own situation. This figure is linked to a percentage between 11% and 14% where cases of false VAT numbers can be seen (often most prevalent in sectors of subcontractors for public administrations). The drive towards working independently unites both freelancers who work on a continuous basis and those who take a break from one job to the next. It’s so strong that the Acta report clearly identifies how “a new type of freelancer has emerged, driven by the freedom and control they have over every single aspect of their work, from professional conduct to quality, training to the amount of time they want to spend on it, and scheduling to choosing where they work. These freelancers would not sacrifice this kind of independence for increased revenue and security”.
80% of Italian freelancers can be defined as slash workers, due to the crisis—which affected young people most of all—and the way the world of work has evolved
Rather than giving in, Italian freelancers are driven to do more jobs to support themselves: 80% can be defined as slash workers. This is due to the crisis—which affected young people most of all—and the way the world of work has evolved, with less barriers existing between one profession and another. A phenomenon that, according to Acta, may lead to declining quality, expertise and skills. Obviously this isn’t the case for everyone and despite the challenges facing them, slash workers are primarily those who use former hobbies as ways to make extra income alongside their “official” jobs.
On the other, income is a sore spot. Even with several occupations in tow, around 75% of the respondents declare 30,000 euro in gross earnings each year and 23% stated that they were below the threshold of 10,000 euro in gross earnings per year.. Money is tight, but they still have to pay taxes as well, and despite rates being eased at 5 and 15%, there’s still a huge weight on their shoulders (often psychological and ethical rather than physical). A helpful welfare system could be the key, but even here freelancers don’t fare so well: less that 10% of respondents feel that they are protected when it comes to pensions, sickness, maternity and injuries, and only 20% pay for voluntary health and accident insurance/make supplementary pension contributions.