Over a fifth of SME employees want to go self-employed

Monday 25 April 2016

Being your own boss, setting your own goals and keeping all of the profits are just some of the advantages to being self-employed. These are just a few of the factors that have seen more and more people being drawn to going out on their own, whether through consultancy work or becoming a freelancer.

A new report, released by Co-operatives UK, found that around a quarter of people in all non-large companies would like to be self-employed. It also suggests that the number of self-employed professionals across the country will "grow further over the next year".

Looking at the figures, the document reveals that more than a quarter of those working at mid-sized firms (27 per cent) would like to be self-employed, while over a fifth (22 per cent) of employees at small firms said the same.

Currently there are around 4.6 million self-employed professionals across the UK, making them a considerable portion of the labour market. Estimations predict that the number of people who are self-employed will outnumber those working in the public sector by 2018.

A considerable chunk (83 per cent) of these professionals are sole traders with no employees. However, the wider self-employed landscape is varied, with people choosing to do freelance work for a range of reasons. This means the term 'self-employed' is changing, representing people with complex and diverse patterns of atypical work.

Co-operatives secretary general Ed Mayo said: "More and more people are turning to self-employment, whether out of choice or necessity."

Suggesting some of the reasons behind this move, he explained that it "offers freedom”.

Mr Mayo added: "Our data shows this is likely to grow, with a significant number of people who are currently in employment interested in going freelance.”

However, the report also identified ways in which these professionals could be better supported by the government.

It recommends that trade unions and other bodies have helped to unite self-employed workers, noting that the world of work is rapidly changing, with many structures being characterised by day-rate payment and job payment.

"In the 19th century working class self-help organisations included craftsmen’s guilds, co-operatives, friendly societies and the first unions. Together they collaborated and proliferated to improve working conditions, to secure rights and status and to maintain standards of living for workers," it explains.

The report goes on to say that there needs to be recognition of the growing self-employed workforce, by developing organising strategies for these professionals and bringing together trade unions.

By Victoria McDonnell

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