The PCG have delivered an in-depth look at the UK’s freelancer and contractor workforce with their study titled ‘Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce 2011’. As the biggest industry group for freelance workers, the PCG describe them as “an important, but hidden, part of the small business population.”
The study referenced a collection of previous employment studies to paint a full picture of the changes to certain aspects of the freelance workforce since 2008. The findings said that the increase from 1.39m to 1.56m freelancers since 2008 represented a 12% increase, which means this workforce constitutes 5-6% of all in employment.
Whilst freelancers reported to be present in most occupations, there were four particular industries which more than half of the freelance workforce operate in, including Professional, scientific and technical activities’, ‘Education’, ‘Arts, entertainment and recreation’ and ‘Information and communication’.
Men were also better represented amongst freelancers than women, with just over 6 in 10 freelancers male. The PCG said that this may be down to the men having better access to the resources required to enter the freelancing sector, or simply because they have stronger preferences for freelance working.
Interestingly a fifth of freelancers were over 60, which was higher than in 2008. Added to the fact that one in seven reported being freelancers before 1990, and 40% before 2005, it represents a level of stability and longevity within the workforce and lifestyle.
The PCG summarised their report, containing to call freelancers an “important component of the UK labour market” whose flexibility help “increase efficiency and manage risk better”. They also added that “The weak position of the UK economy and persistent turbulence in commodity markets would suggest that many private and public sector organisations will continue to experience incentives to use freelancers in future.” The full report can be read on the PCG website.
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