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More UK Graduates Turn to Freelancing

A new study exploring how Generation Y is pursuing alternative career paths, has revealed that a third of UK’s graduates strive to advance their career by freelancing for more than one company. A report published by Elance, the online work platform, found that freelancing is now seen as a highly attractive and lucrative career option by 87% of students with first or second class degrees.  This compares to 77% of those with lower class degrees.

21% of graduates with first class honours admit they have already opted for working as freelancers, while 29% of all graduates say freelancing is part of their career strategy in the next five years.

The top 10 skills supplied by UK freelancers to businesses in 2013 were:

1. Article Writing

 2. Content Writing

 3. English translation

 4. Blogs

 5. Web Content

 6. Graphic Design

 7. PHP

 8. Copywriting

 9. Creative Writing

10. HTML

Flexibility is the Biggest Career Draw

Flexibility was identified as the biggest career advantage, with over two thirds (69%) of all graduates arguing that independent work offers them a better work-life balance. 38% of respondents appeared to be  attracted to the earning potential of freelancing, saying they feel they can earn as much, even more than they could in a conventional job.

38% of graduates also find the diversity of work offered by freelance work appealing. Over a quarter (28%) consider freelancing as a means to be a boss of their own. Given that that one in ten graduates remain out of work six months after leaving university, it is no surprise that students are willing to take control of their own destiny.

Parents do not Favour their Children’s Freelancing Career

Meanwhile, despite 85% of Gen Y graduates see freelancing as becoming pervasive in the next five years, the research reveals that parents remain more skeptical about this career direction. Only one tenth of graduates believe their parents would actively encourage them to freelance. This is because freelance work is deemed a risky career option by parents according to 41% of graduates, with 24% citing their parents’ concerns about the lack of company benefits like private healthcare and company pension.

Implications for Businesses

Kjetil Olsen, Vice-President, Europe, Elance pointed out that “The research has far-reaching implications for employers. It’s clear that if they want access to some of the UK’s top graduates, they will increasingly need to tap into the freelance talent pool. Many are doing this already, but those that aren’t should consider putting in place processes for complementing their permanent staff with additional skilled independent workers”.

On the whole, it seems that the world of work is rapidly transforming in line with the current economic conditions which have compelled young graduates to explore new ways of earning a living. Generation Y has reconsidered whether having a traditional job is a vital option nowadays when they see that a huge amount of employers turn to online work platforms to fill skills and that freelancing is a highly profitable career choice.  

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