A 334,000 (63%) rise in highly-skilled female freelancers has driven the UK’s freelance revolution over the last 10 years according to new research from IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed. The increase, which represents a group larger than the population of Nottingham, takes the number of senior-level women freelancing in the UK to 863,000.
The professions that saw the largest rises since 2008 were health, the arts and media, and functional directors within companies. Alongside the increase in senior-level women, the number of mothers freelancing increased by 80 per cent.
Commenting on the rise of freelance women, senior freelance business analyst and chairwoman of IPSE Caroline Morgan, said:
“This is brilliant news for the UK economy, with highly skilled women adding their knowledge and experience to a wide range of organisations and industries. Women are recognising that freelancing is a great career choice. The senior women I speak to chose to be their own boss for a wide range of reasons, from variety in their career to balancing family life. As a freelancer I have been able to find that balance outside the confines of a corporate structure.
“The country increasingly relies on highly skilled freelancers to innovate and share knowledge across a wide range of industries as our labour force modernises to compete around the world.
“More than ever, this shows that freelancing is a feminist issue, and that we urgently need the government to modernise its tax and employment systems to support it.”
The research, which was developed in conjunction with Kingston University, also showed that the UK’s solo self-employed population has risen from 3.2 million to 4.4 million. That is one in seven workers, who now add a total of approximately £275bn to the UK economy – enough to fund the NHS twice.
Professor John Kitching from Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre said:
“The rise of solo self-employment in the last 10 years has become one of the key competitive advantages of the modern UK economy, with freelancers alone contributing no less than £130bn to business turnover.
“In the context of Brexit-driven economic uncertainty, this report has shown just how important self-employment is for ensuring that the UK’s labour market provides opportunities for greater a quality and quantity of work, as set out in the government’s Good Work plan.”