The number of self-employed people in the UK has risen, according to the latest employment statistics.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of self-employed rose by 98,000 in the three months to November 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.
IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, reports that this is a "record high" for self-employment.
Lorence Nye, IPSE economic policy adviser, said: "Today's labour market figures again show more and more people are realising the benefits of self-employment and opting to become their own boss."
Freelancing, he said, is no longer limited to certain professions or specific age groups. It is "an established part of the labour market, with workers in every sector and from every demographic."
However, Nye reports that there has been particularly rapid growth in the number of older workers who become self-employed to continue their careers past retirement age, and also among those under thirty.
Nye said: "The self-employed are now a key part of the UK economy. Their flexibility provides us with a unique characteristic that has powered the UK through the financial crisis and may be the one thing that shelters the country from the potential global economic storm appearing on the horizon. We hope the Government will continue to implement tailored policies to help this essential sector flourish, to allow for the UK to retain its competitive edge."
The latest jobs figures show that the labour market as whole has performed strongly in 2015. Michael Martins, economist at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "These jobs figures, which show the British labour market ended 2015 strongly, could be just what the doctor ordered as we see nothing but storm clouds gathering across the global economy. At home, British firms remain upbeat, creating jobs, and pushing both the absolute number of people and the employment rate to its highest level since records began."
However, the skills shortage is affecting many firms, especially small businesses, he said. "For small firms that employ fewer than ten employees, the struggle to find workers is particularly acute, with vacancies rising by 13% in the last quarter."