BERLIN, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The total turnover of the German consulting market increased by 7.3 percent to 33.8 billion euros (38.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, according to figures published by the Association of German Consultants (BDU) on Thursday.
"The great demand, especially for support in digitization issues, continues overall," said BDU President Ralf Strehlau.
Demand for consultants in Germany was especially strong in the consumer goods industry - up 8.7 percent - followed by the insurance industry, with an 8.1 percent increase, according to BDU.
IT security and data protection issues were the main topics keeping consultants busy in Germany in 2018, and these issues "significantly gained in relevance" after the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), said BDU. Several data scandals have also ensured a growing awareness of the need for enhanced prevention.
Last year's growth could have been even higher had the consultancies found more staff. According to BDU, up to 10 percent of jobs in the industry were vacant in 2018. "The search for employees will remain the limiting factor in 2019," Strehlau told the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
BDU expects the consulting industry to record almost unchanged growth in 2019 despite increasing "economic uncertainties," such as global trade conflicts or the pending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The German consulting sector has recorded consistent growth over the last years and nearly doubled its total turnover since 2010.
Currently, the use of consultants by Germany's government is subject to a heated public debate sparked by what has become known as the consultant affair of the country's Ministry of Defense.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has been accused of nepotism and misconduct in awarding contracts to external consultants. In February, a special committee was set up to investigate the accusations.