Survey: More graduates considering freelancing

Tuesday 17 November 2015

A survey of more than 1,000 graduates has revealed that young professionals are feeling positive about self-employment in the UK. This is not surprising, given that freelancing is at its most popular for 40 years.

The survey, which was conducted by PolicyBee, found that 56 per cent of the 1,002 graduates already had some experience of contracting, having used it as a flexible way to earn money while studying for their degree.

Such a substantial level of familiarity with the world of freelancing suggests that young people are taking steps to educate themselves on the most effective ways to support themselves during their studies, as it is often possible for them to use their existing skills to earn more than they would in the low-skilled, part-time jobs that are often regarded as being typical for students.

This perhaps accounts for the fact that 44 per cent of the respondents said they were considering freelancing. This figure shows that many people are looking beyond traditional employee roles, even at the beginning of their professional lives.

Unfortunately, it seems that self-employment is still not being discussed as much as other career paths by university careers services. The majority (62 per cent) of graduates said freelancing was not discussed at all by their university’s careers department, and almost one in five (19 per cent) felt their uni could have done more to make them aware of the option.

In fact, 48 per cent of graduates didn’t think their careers department had done enough to prepare them for the world of work. This hints at a need for people preparing to leave university to actively research their career prospects, as the appropriate information and advice might not be as readily available as they expect.

Interestingly, only 16 per cent of the graduates said that their parents’ opinion was discouraging them from working as a freelancer. There are two ways to interpret this statistic. It either suggests that increasing numbers of parents are aware of the benefits of self-employment, and so their offspring feel that they are likely to support their contracting ambitions.

The other possible explanation is the young people are feeling more empowered to make informed career choices for themselves, and are more prepared to do so independently of their parents. Either way, this reflects the confidence that freelancers need, so suggests that the new graduates are ready challenges of working for themselves.

The graduates surveyed had a clear idea of the benefits they thought freelancers could bring to a company. Up-to-date subject knowledge topped the list at 55 per cent, followed by flexibility (50 per cent). A total of 49 per cent thought freelancers were not limited by inherited processes or systems, and 47 per cent highlighted a contractor’s ability to think outside the box.

In short, the young people surveyed reflect a new generation that are prepared to make opportunities that suit them, and consider freelancing a valuable tool in their arsenal when it comes to achieving their goals.


By Victoria McDonnell

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