Record levels of self-employed through necessity

Self-employment hit record levels in the autumn of 2011, accounting for 14.2 per cent of total employment, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed.

But those that have turned to self-employment since the financial crisis began in 2008, are unlike the typical demographic in terms of gender, hours of work, occupation or sector, that normally set up alone.

The CIPD claims that the latest round of self-employed people are that way through necessity, as opposed to enterprise, as more and more jobs are cut in both the private and public sectors.

According to its Work Audit report, a typical self-employed person is a skilled tradesman, professional or manager working full time hours. But the recession has seen a rise in those less skilled, including 'odd jobbers', who are working part-time, and have set up alone through necessity.

Nevertheless, the numbers are helping to 'keep a lid' on rising unemployment figures. This week saw the latest statistics released, revealing that 8.4 per cent of the population is out of work, and this is forecast to rise further.

Commenting, Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the CIPD, said: "The typical self-employed person in Britain today remains a skilled tradesman, manager or professional working long hours on the job, but since the start of the recession the ranks of the self-employed have been swelled by people from a much wider array of backgrounds and occupations, including many 'handy-men' without skills, picking-up whatever bits and pieces of work are available. It's good that these self-employed 'odd jobbers' are helping to keep the lid on unemployment in a very weak labour market but their emergence hardly suggests a surge in genuine entrepreneurial zeal. While some of these newly self-employed may make a long-term commitment to being their own boss, or at least gain the necessary experience to do so, it's likely that most would take a job with an employer if only they could find one."