UK graduates are showing a marked interest in freelancing and self-employment according to the Next Generation of Freelancers study from online professional insurance broker PolicyBee.
The study of 1,002 recent graduates* found that:
- Over half (56%) of those surveyed said they had undertaken some freelancing during their studies and that 44% were considering freelancing or self-employment as a career option.
- More support is required from universities to prepare these young entrepreneurs for their chosen career path:
- 62% of graduates said freelancing or self-employment was not discussed at all, even though it was an option for their chosen career.
- A further 19% said it was discussed but not enough information was given.
The study highlights that freelance and self-employed graduates have a wealth of skills that can give them the edge over their more mature counterparts.
When asked what they thought the main advantages of hiring a graduate freelancer were for an employer, respondents answered:
- Up to date subject knowledge (55%)
- Flexibility (50%)
- Not limited by inherited processes or systems (49%)
- Able to think outside the box (47%)
Kerri-Ann Hockley, who commissioned the study for PolicyBee, says:
“More and more people are turning to self-employment to overcome the difficulties of our current economic situation. The study clearly shows that many graduates have an appetite for self-employment and need to make an informed decision about whether this is the right career choice for them. Universities could do more to encourage and support potential freelancers.”
Will Calderbank, graduate entrepreneur and founder of Distorted Logic says:
“The university careers support available to me was basic, and mainly focussed on getting an internship in my third year. I decided not to do that, fell through the gaps a little bit, and ended up with no support. In my opinion, university careers departments need to think a little less about the one-size-fits-all approach, and help students and graduates consider all the options out there.”
“In the past, self-employment or freelancing were only considered options by more experienced professionals,” continues Kerri-Ann. “The latest generation don’t see this as a barrier. Thanks to the changing job market and developments in technology, graduates can enjoy greater independence. They no longer need to follow conventional routes into employment if it doesn’t suit them. However, they could still benefit from more support, and universities have an important role to play in supplying this.”