Increasing number of students gravitating towards self-employment, survey finds

We like to keep our ear to the ground here at Kingsbridge. We’ve been vocal in the past about the…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

We like to keep our ear to the ground here at Kingsbridge. We’ve been vocal in the past about the positive impact of contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed on the UK economy. But what does the future hold? The working world is changing rapidly, and the next generation of workers will find themselves in an entirely different situation to their parents.

The path these days isn’t as clear cut as it once was. Gone is a lifetime spent in one job, gradually working your way up the ladder. Workers today move and adapt, changing jobs, industries, and skill sets whenever they need or want to.

We’ve noticed that fluidity in our role as insurers, and a recent survey by print company Solopress indicated a similar trajectory going forward. Graduate jobs, the survey found, are being ditched in favour of self-employment.

56% of students, 1.2m people in university education, are contemplating rejecting the corporate career ladder in favour of setting up their own business. For the students questioned, the idea of launching a start-up was more appealing than taking a more traditional route.

32% of students consider starting their own company in their first year at university, with 38% of the opinion that doing so would give them a better chance of being successful.

The survey goes on to offer some insight into why the students consider self-employment a better option than ‘normal’ employment. 47% of those asked said that the idea of flexible working appealed to them, whilst 45% wanted to be their own boss and 28% thought that working for themselves would offer a better work/life balance.

Over a third (36%), however, chose self-employment because of the financial benefits. With the average salary for UK graduates sitting at £19k – £22k, over a quarter (27%) thinking of entering self-employment anticipate an income of at least £25k, while 10% expect to earn £30k or more. As others have observed, these are the latest sign that the traditional workforce is falling behind when it comes to starting income.

Despite the wealth of advances available to them, like increased internet access and the ability to work remotely, almost half (45%) of the students surveyed believed that setting up a business now is more difficult than it was for previous generations. 68% gave too much competition as the main reason, whilst 57% believed that the issue lies will the lack of available funding and support.

Students are more than willing to invest their own savings when it comes to starting up their own business, with 78% saying they were willing to do so. 40% would be happy to take out a loan, whilst 21% would ask their parents for money.

As Solopress’ co-founder Aron Priest noted: “With more students and graduates freelancing and launching their own businesses over jumping on the career ladder, we wanted to find out what’s really pushing this new way of working. It’s interesting to see that despite the initial investment costs, risks of starting a business and the competition, the majority of students are considering starting-up over graduate roles.

“It’s clear that hard work and risk doesn’t seem to put the new generation of workers off of running a business. Young graduates are ambitious and UK businesses really need to get to grips with what will motivate them to stay in the workforce. After all, we don’t want to be losing talented workers.”

With the legislative climate looking troublesome for the self-employed, it would be wise for the government to take into account the next generation of workers before they commit to a decision which will, in all likelihood, unfairly penalise them before they even get started.

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