Here in the UK, we’re surrounded by selfies! And not just teenagers with sticks adjusting their reflected photos with emojis and filtered dog ears. Since the turn of the century, the number of self-employed workers in the UK has risen to record levels, and it’s an increase which shows no signs of slowing.
In 2001, the country’s self-employment rate stood at 3.3 million. Last year, the Office for National Statistics
(ONS) revealed that the figure had reached 4.8 million, accounting for more than 15% of the UK’s total workforce.
It’s not simply the amount of people choosing to work for themselves that stands out, but the types of people doing it. While the rise in self-employed workers has been prevalent amongst all age groups, the biggest increases have been between those at opposing ends of their career.
Young people, for instance, seem keener than ever to become their own bosses. The number of 16 to 24 year olds choosing self-employment today is almost twice that of 2001 and, since the financial crash at the end of the last decade, the number of self-employed workers aged 65 and above has nearly tripled.
The upsurge in self-employment has been driven, predominantly, by those from degree level education. This group have increased their share in both self-employment and total employment, revealing that highly-qualified people are becoming more concentrated in self-employed roles.
The Benefits of Self-Employment
- According to the CIPD, those who work for themselves are generally much happier in their jobs than company employees. Furthermore, fewer self-employed workers ‘feel under excessive pressure at work’, with more ‘achieving the right balance between their work and home life’.
- And it’s not just individuals who seem to be benefitting from self-employment. In the three months to May 2018, the national unemployment rate fell to just over 4%. This is the joint lowest in over 40 years! According to the ONS, the rise in self-employment has significantly helped boost job growth since the 2008 recession.
- Now that a significant portion of the UK labour market is made up of people who work for themselves, policymakers and researchers are also making decisions which are tailored more towards this section of the workforce.
What is a Self-Employed Person?
Okay, this might seem fairly self-explanatory, but self-employment can take many forms. This includes freelancers, entrepreneurs, contractors, gig economy workers and sole traders. It does not include, however, zero-hours workers, who tend to have the same employment rights as that of regular employees. So there’s no confusion, a person can be classified as self-employed if they
- Own a business, as opposed to working for an employer.
- Agree fixed prices for their work with customers or end clients.
- Decide upon their own schedule, as and when work becomes available.
- Work for more than one client simultaneously.
- Provide from their own pocket, the tools, materials or equipment that may be needed to complete a contract.
The question, of course, is whether the growth in this type of work is driven by a desire for flexibility
and self-management, or if certain people were in fact ‘forced’ into it.
Adam Corlett, Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation
, has a slightly different take on the enhanced levels of self-employment. Mr Corlett suggests that the Government should ‘investigate how public policy can catch up to meet the needs of the workers.’
“Almost five million workers across Britain are now self-employed. But while the self-employed workforce is getting bigger, typical earnings are actually lower than they were 20 years ago,” he said.
“For many people, self-employment brings a freedom that no employer can provide. But the growth of low pay and short hours, along with a summer of protest about conditions, means that it’s no surprise some workers in the ‘gig economy’ feel that self-employment is just a positive spin on precarious work.”
Thinking of Starting Your Own Business?
However you consider self-employment, it looks set to remain a pronounced feature of the UK labour market for many years to come. To see Danbro’s TEN TOP TIPS on starting your own business, click here
So, if you’ve got a game-changing new business idea, or if you’re uncertain about self-employment or starting-up on your own, why not get in touch
with Danbro’s expert team today or call us on 01253 600 150.
We’ll understand. We’ll deliver. We’ll grow together.