Are graduates choosing freelancing over traditional careers?


Elliot Davies
Wednesday 26 February 2014 11:53 GMT

Almost nine in 10 university graduates with first or second class degrees see freelancing as a lucrative career choice, according to a new survey.

A fifth of graduates with first class degrees have already decided to work as a freelancer, the study shows, while 29 per cent of all graduates intend to make freelance work part of their career plans. 85 per cent say they see it becoming the norm within the next five years.

The findings suggest graduates are drawn to freelancing by the independence and flexibility on offer: more than two thirds said freelancing presented a better work-life balance than a traditional job, and 38 per cent found the variety inherent in freelance work appealing.

Graduates may also be keen to gain more control over their lives after university; 28 per cent said they see freelancing as a good way to work for themselves. Recent figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that one in 10 young people are still out of work six months after graduating.

The potential to make money was also tempting; 38 per cent of those surveyed said they believe they can earn at least as much as they would with a traditional career.

Graduates' parents were less certain, however. 41 per cent of respondents thought their parents would view freelancing as a risky career move, citing concerns about healthcare and pensions, and just one in ten said their parents would actively encourage them to freelance.

The study of 1,032 graduates was commissioned by Elance, a website for freelance job postings and recruitment. There are an estimated 1.4 million freelancers in Britain, with most working in programming, design and multimedia, or writing and translation.

Kjetil Olsen, Elance's vice-president for Europe, said: “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.”

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