More and more young people are looking to self-employment

Contracting is often thought of the arena of people further on in their careers, when they’ve built networks and gained…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

Contracting is often thought of the arena of people further on in their careers, when they’ve built networks and gained enough experience to be considered experts in their field. However, that looks set to change with recent research by AAT and Survation revealing that 43% of 16-24 year olds have the ambition to set up their own business during their working life.

What the survey reveals

Of the 1,001 young people surveyed, 49% of those from a lower socio-economic background wanted to be self-employed. This figure stood at 46% for those from a middle socio-economic background, and 44% for those from a higher socio-economic background. While there’s not much difference in these numbers, it does suggest that self-employment is most appealing to young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, who may not be served well by traditional recruitment methods when it comes to finding work.

Money can be seen as an impediment when it comes to self-employment though. 44% of those surveyed saw having enough money to get started as a top priority in setting up a business. When it comes to skills, financial management was seen as most important by 40%, followed by communication/negotiation (36%) and leadership (29%).

On the results of the survey, Adam Harper, Director of Strategy and Professional Standards at AAT had this to say: “It’s great to see that young people have the ambition to start their own business irrespective of their background. Despite the prevailing barriers to social mobility, the next generation of workers have an entrepreneurial spirit that supersedes these.”

With the rise of the gig economy, flexible working environments, SME numbers and digital opportunities, young people are increasingly living in a world where they may view their only limitation as the scale of their own ambition.

What would more young people bring to the contracting arena?

It’s hard to say exactly what more young people in the talent pool will do exactly but we would suggest that it will bring:

  • Up-to-date skillsets
  • More innovation
  • Increased collaboration
  • More competition
  • Mentoring opportunities

It’s not out of the realms of possibility to suggest that we will soon see school leavers and university graduates who never enter the formal job market, and instead go straight to self-employment, which could gradually bring on a shift in the way we, as a nation think about and educate our young people about careers.

Self-employment lessons in schools?

Assuming these survey results are representative of the nation’s young people, it would not be too much to suggest that self-employment should be taught in careers lessons as a viable option. These could take in some of the practical aspects such as finances, taxes and contractor insurance, as well as the more creative side such as designing a website and marketing yourself.

Of course, this is just speculation, but it seems it could be expedient to educate young people on the practicalities of self-employment early, so that they can aspire to more and work towards it.

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