New analysis of the self-employed sector has found that job flexibility is the key attraction for today's freelancers.
A study by Instant Offices has found that millennials and UK workers facing significant lifestyle changes, such as motherhood or impending retirement, are looking for more flexible ways to work.
According to IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, the self-employed sector includes 4.8 million people, with freelancers comprising 42% of that population and 6% of the UK workforce as a whole.
IPSE data also shows that the number of female freelancers has grown by 55% since 2008. The number of new mothers choosing to take up freelance work rather than return to full-time office employment post-baby has shot up by 79%. Comparatively, the number of men freelancing has grown by 36% in the same time frame.
Millennials are also driving growth, with the number of freelancers aged 26-29 rising by 66% since 2008. However, baby boomers and Generation X make up almost half of the freelancer population, with 48% in the 40-59 age range.
Freelancers contributed £119 billion to the UK economy in 2016, up from £109 billion in 2015. The best-paying roles for freelancers are in finance and IT. The fastest-growing freelance occupations in the past ten years have been:
- Healthcare (191% growth);
- Artistic, literary and media roles (103% growth);
- Sports and fitness (103% growth).