London, 19th September 2008: A research study carried out by the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University on behalf of The Professional Contractors Group (PCG), which represents the UK’s freelancers, has revealed that there are now 1.4 million freelancers in the UK. The figure reflects a 14% growth in this alternative way of working since 1998. The findings were outlined at an event hosted by PCG in central London.
Commenting on the study, John Brazier, managing director of PCG said: “We are delighted and proud to be able to present the first authoritative study of the UK’s freelance population. This study gives us a credible outline of the size and characteristics of our dynamic freelance workforce, which has not existed up until now.”
Experts from Kingston University used data from the Labour Force Survey and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s (BERR) SME statistics to explore the size of the UK freelance workforce. Other notable findings revealed that:
- of the 1.4 million freelancers, 63% are male and 37% female
- 58% define themselves as working “full time”, 42% as working “part time”
- 163,000 people undertake freelance work in a secondary role, as well as working in another main job
- freelancers’ characteristics vary between different occupations:
. Management, IT, engineering and broadcasting tend to be male dominated
. Translation services, proof-reading and book publishing appear to be female-dominated
. The prevalent forms vary in different sectors: limited companies are the norm in some, and sole traders the norm in others, largely depending on whether it is common to use agencies to find work.
Dr John Kitching, co-author of the report, commented: “Freelancers play an important role in the UK economy both in their numbers, their contribution to business turnover and in the range of activities they perform. But there is no ‘typical’ freelance worker; they vary in their personal, work and organisational characteristics. We have enjoyed having the opportunity to investigate the make-up of this diverse and significant group of workers.”
John Brazier added: “This is an extremely valuable snapshot of the freelance workforce; it also shows that there is much work still to do in order to build up a really detailed and thorough picture of the market.
“As the only non profit association that represents the UK’s freelancers, we continuously strive to make freelancers’ voices heard by Government - the freelance community has grown over the last ten years and all the signs indicate that it will continue to grow; it is our job to ensure that Government listens to freelancers’ needs.”
A copy of the executive summary and/or full report is available on request.
For further information:
Tel: 01273 475672
Note to editors:
The Professional Contractors Group (PCG), www.pcg.org.uk, was formed in May 1999 to provide independent contractors and consultants with a representative voice in opposition to the original IR35 proposals. Since then, PCG has evolved from being a single-issue campaign group to being a fully fledged, not-for-profit professional body representing knowledge workers who choose to be self-employed.
PCG members work in a wide variety of sectors including oil and gas, engineering, information technology, management consultancy, marketing, telecommunications, construction and pharmaceuticals.
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