New think tank to research self-employed

Friday 18 December 2015

In order to find out more about freelancers and other self-employed workers, a new think tank has been launched to conduct some pioneering research.

The Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE), which will work closely with a number of leading experts from around the world, aims to help improve understanding of professionals who choose to be self-employed, and the impact they have on the economy.

It is estimated that around 4.5 million people in the UK choose this style of working, which accounts for around 14 per cent of the working population.

Professor Andrew Burke, dean of Trinity Business School at Trinity College Dublin and chair of the CRSE, said the self-employed and freelancers are "transforming business practices and career choice".

He explained that many businesses are now making greater use of freelancers to manage risk and drive growth by adopting more agile, flexible and innovative activities.

Professor Burke said the new think tank will bring together some of the world's leading researchers in the field and engage them with the industry in order to create a deeper knowledge of modern freelancing.

The launch of the CRSE suggests recognition of how important self-employed people have become to the UK's economy and work practices. It is hoped that the think tank will provide multi-disciplinary research, which can then be used by international bodies to compare the self-employed sector to small and large businesses.

Through this, the CRSE hopes to provide a much stronger body of information about the sector, which has become increasingly important to the economy in the past decade.

Another of its aims is to act as a resource for debates concerning the self-employed and freelancers.

To coincide with the launch, the CRSE have published a new book ‘The Handbook of Research on Freelancing and Self-Employment’. The book includes contributions from leading international academics on several areas of self-employment, from workforce trends to the talent ecosystem. It also sets out the agenda for future research.

IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has supported the initiative.

Chairman of the IPSE James Collings said: “It is widely recognised that the self-employed have an important impact on modern economies, but they are a sector of the labour market that is often misunderstood and misrepresented.
"The CRSE will also play a key role in strengthening our ability to make evidence-based policy proposals to government."

By Victoria McDonnell

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