UK sees significant rise in freelance population
by Alan Little
More people are leaving the security of nine-to-five jobs and taking up the flexibility of freelancing, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).
UK workers and millennials have to contend with lifestyle changes due to nearing retirement or impending motherhood. So, they look for work allowing them to earn and also maintain their work-life balance.
IPSE states that almost 4.8 million people are now self-employed, with the figure also including freelancers. Of the total self-employed, 42% are freelancers, making up around 6% of the UK workforce. According to IPSE figures, most freelancers are females. Since 2008, the number of female freelancers increased by 55%, while the number of men working as freelancers grew by 36%. New mothers are more likely to freelance than return to office employment after maternity leave.
Young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s are driving the growth of the freelancing sector. Freelancers between the ages of 26 and 29 have increased by 66% since 2008. Half of the freelance industry comprises millennials and seniors. But, a majority of freelancers are aged between 40 and 49 and 50 and 59.
In 2016, a report from IPSE showed that freelancers were responsible for contributing £119bn to the UK economy, compared to £109bn in 2015. Experts believe that this number will keep growing. Kayte Jenkins, an IPSE reporter, stated that businesses owned by freelancers tend to generate more revenues compared to own account businesses because freelancers tend to bring more knowledge and skills to tasks or assignments.
The uncertainty due to Brexit has opened many avenues for flexible workers in the UK, who are poised to play a major role in the nation’s workforce. Businesses can hire the most talented and skilled professionals for their needs without making long-term financial commitments. Modern-day technologies, such as mobile technology and video conferencing, allow businesses to hire freelancers from any corner of the UK.
Peter Johnson, the founder and CEO of Lystable, revealed that global giants, such as ASOS and Google are hiring almost half of their workforce in the UK from the freelance population.
Jenkins added that the growth of the freelance population across industries continued even during the 2008-9 global financial meltdown, and thereafter when the global economy picked up. She believes that the freelancing trend is here to stay as more UK workers realise the benefits of working on their own terms.