A new study by PeoplePerHour, a UK-based company that provides an online platform for freelancers to advertise for work, has revealed that the key driver for the self-employed is the desire for autonomy.
The study found that more than a fifth (21.7%) of survey respondents who were self-employed cited the ‘desire for independence’ as the number one incentive for setting up in business, with the second most cited reason being a need for ‘a greater challenge, creativity, success and job satisfaction (20.3%).
Further reasons for becoming self-employed include the ability to work from home (13.2%), the opportunity for flexible working hours (12%), and an improved work-life balance (10.7%).
The survey suggests that most people make a voluntary decision to become self-employed, with only 1.2% of those interviewed citing that they had to be self-employed due to the nature of their work, with 3.1% joining or taking over the family business.
Indeed, this craving for occupational fulfilment is something that is found to be most prominent in the over 50s who have spent most of their working lives under the employment of someone else. Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, commissioned by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), has found that the over 50s make up 72% of all self-employed people in the UK – an increase of 46.5% over figures from 2008.
“We’re seeing growth in all sectors of self-employment, but the over-50s is a real boom area. When this generation started their careers, self-employment was pretty rare, but now it’s a perfectly normal choice. After 30 or 40 years commuting to a 9-to-5 job, they are seeing freelancers in cafes, or have friends who work from home, and want a piece of the action themselves.”
The respondents from the PeoplePerHour survey came from 20 different industry sectors. The most popular fields of self-employment were the creative industries (32.4%) and mathematical or computing job roles (25%). More than 60% of respondents were educated to degree level or above, with only 2.3% in possession of no qualifications at all.