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Highly-skilled freelancers driving growth in self-employment

Charlotte Dennis our consultant managing the role
Published on 27 March 2018

Growth in self-employment has been driven by highly-skilled freelancers, according to a recent report from IPSE and Kingston University.

Making up 14% of the total workforce, there are now 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK. Of this, 57% are male and 43% female, with the number of female freelancers growing by 67% since 2008.

The number of highly-skilled freelancers has grown by 46% since 2008, with the group accounting for almost half of all solo self-employed people (those who work on their own account without employees).

The contribution to the UK economy of freelancers and the solo self-employed increased to £271 billion in 2017, up from £255 billion in 2016. Of this, highly-skilled freelancers contributed at least £125 billion, an increase against £119 billion in 2016.

Chris Bryce, CEO of IPSE, said:

“The report goes a long way to dispelling the myth that activity in the self-employment sector is occurring mainly in the ‘platform’ or ‘gig’ economies, when the real growth is in highly skilled freelancer occupations.

People value flexibility, which is one reason why more people than ever before are moving into freelancing and taking the opportunity to fit their work around their lives.”