As freelancers continue to represent an increasingly significant proportion of the workforce, people are increasingly seeing this way of working as a career choice, not just a short-term, convenient option.
Almost four out of ten freelancers plan to remain so in the long term, with only seven per cent of those currently working in this manner wanting to work as an employee again in the future. These results come from the latest survey conducted across five European countries, by the Payroll and HR services provider SD Worx and the Antwerp Management School.
There are clear reasons why this is proving to be an effective career choice, rather than just a short-term fix. Freelancers are spending time developing their skills. They are often highly engaged employees, due to the core qualities that come with the sense of autonomy they have, such as being able to manage workloads effectively and being in control of personal development. This results in freelancers feeling competent in their jobs, with 76 per cent of UK respondents stating that they feel they are doing well in their job, while only 15 per cent have doubts about whether they can do their jobs properly.
Secondly, freelancers have the flexibility to develop and enhance their professional skills as they see fit. This independent self-governance is obviously appealing, freelancers in Germany (47 per cent) and France (43 per cent) are most likely to actively spend time developing and adding to their own skills, followed by The Netherlands (37 per cent) and Belgium (39 per cent), whilst UK freelancers (30 per cent) are least likely.
Despite three out of ten UK freelancers spending time developing their own skills, there are clear deficiencies to be addressed. Only 23 per cent of them actually use professional or personal networks for support. Of the freelancers surveyed, UK freelancers are the least likely to use support networks, compared to 36 per cent in Belgium and almost one in three (32 per cent) in the Netherlands. Additionally, 65 per cent of UK freelancers never look for support on commercial advice, qualities that are increasingly important for professionals across any industry vertical. Freelancers are, however, keen to look for support when it comes to new competencies, with 41 per cent of British freelancers stating that they have done so.
Fiona McKee, Head of Human Resources at SD Worx UK & Ireland, comments,
It’s easy to think that people freelance as a temporary solution, possibly to bridge a gap between different jobs or because they need extra flexibility due to family commitments. Clearly, there are many more significant factors behind why people are seeing freelancing as a long-term career choice though. As a freelancer, people have the flexibility to be in control of their personal development and as a result, they tend to be highly engaged in the workplace. However, that flexibility isn’t necessarily restricted to freelancers only. We are seeing a trend towards a personalisation of the employer-employee relationship. The focus is increasingly on the individual.
But just how profitable are some of the freelance careers we see these days, and just how desirable do people find them? In the UK the number of freelancers on the up from 3.3million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, according to the Office Of National Statistics, which clearly shows that the perception of job insecurity in freelancing has faded away, with more people finding the idea of the flexibility it brings more appealing. As well as this, there has been significant press around the ‘gig economy’, with it being revealed that currently, 2.8 million people in the UK are selling their labour through apps according to the Online Labour Index.
According to a new study by Protectivity insurance which surveyed 1001 people across the UK, a freelance career as a Lawyer, Investment Consultant and an Architect, with an average salary between £57,000 and £42,000 per annum, came out in the top five most profitable, whilst there were also some less obvious results that interestingly came within the top ten; a music teacher, yoga instructor and interior designer all made their way in, earning between £37,000 to £40,000 per annum.
When it comes to the desirability of the careers, 68 per cent consider a photographer to be a desirable career with a Musician closely behind on 64 per cent. Interestingly, in a generation and time that is so focussed on social media and digital platforms, the careers that came out at the bottom were Bloggers and Social Media Marketer’s with only 38 per cent believing these to be desirable. Similarly, although becoming a Yoga Instructor proved itself to be a profitable career to embark upon, many did not believe this path to be a desirable one with only a 41 per cent vote.
For the animal lovers among us it will also come as no surprise that both Pet Sitting and Dog Walking made it into the top 20 of the most desirable freelance careers, because who can resist looking after some love-able animals for a living!
Sean Walsh, Marketing Manager from Protectivity Insurance, comments,
Joining the world of ‘freelancing’ can be a scary prospect at first to some, but has worrying about job security become a thing of the past, with more people getting involved with the ‘gig economy’ and taking on more freelance work than ever before? There is often a negative connotation associated with freelancers when it comes to both job security and a regular income, but it’s great to see such a variation of careers making it into the most profitable and desirable. Hopefully this research shows some interesting results that prove you can get out there on your own and make the jump into the freelancing world.