Would You Like To Be Self-Employed?

The number of people in self-employment has increased in recent years and looks set to keep growing. Employers and employees are the normal currency of economic conversations but the impact of the self-employed on the economy is now making its presence felt.

Growing numbers

The focus by the government on people who are self-employed has increased as they are, perhaps for the first time, recognised as an important group within the wider economic model.

Self-employment comes with its own challenges as family life, buying a house, saving for retirement and achieving financial security all vie for attention with the demands of running a business.

Self-employed was traditionally reserved for a small minority of people as the majority were employed without any thought of starting a business or working for themselves.

But times and the economy are changing as more people choose or are forced to choose self-employment, as employers reduce costs and engage freelance and contract workers.

Traditionally the self-employed were often populated by sub-contractors in construction, small shopkeepers, freelance couriers, taxi drivers, journalists or others who wanted to work for themselves.

The range of those who are now self-employed, however, has expanded as many more people in all types of jobs and professions join the collective of the independent.

The growth in the figures has helped overall employment to increase as statistically much of the recent rise in employment has come from the self-employed.

Changing profile

Many converts to self-employment stay in self-employment, as it becomes a rewarding and permanent way of life.

The range of people who work for themselves is changing, as many different disciplines embrace being their own boss and making their own rules.

Older people are working for themselves in greater numbers too as they supplement income from other jobs and from inadequate retirement pensions.

Women too are swelling the ranks of the self-employed as the flexibility it offers often complements the demands of family life.

Many self-employed people work in part-time jobs to complement income from more traditional roles as employees.

There was a perception that people chose self-employment out of a sense of necessity following the financial crash but many now make the choice as it suits their lifestyle and ambitions.

Lower wages, insecure working conditions, poor pensions and a lack of training are often associated with self-employment and are issues that need to be addressed by government.

In a wider context there is a need to capture better quality data on the number of people in self-employment, not least to avoid future health and pension payment shortfalls.

Regardless of the detail, however, the number of people working for themselves is likely to grow as the structure of the economy changes.

SO, self-employment is a growing area of activity for many people and it needs greater recognition from government and policy makers to make it work for those involved.