Graduating into
the gig economy

In today’s world, a specialist is only ever a click away. The gig economy is booming and graduates are in place to make the most of it. It’s a good job too, because for many, a fulfilling career via the traditional route has never seemed further away.

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528,545 graduates left university in 2015, but there are only 20,000 confirmed graduate jobs at Times Top 100 employers.

what about the other 508,545?

The Higher Education Statistics Agency asked these graduates about what they were doing.

Of the 372,905 responses, only 78% were in full-time employment or pursuing further study.

22% were working part-time, unemployed or other and not making the most of their degrees or skills.

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Of the graduates who were employed only 5% were either self-employed, freelance or starting up their own business

8%

were developing a professional portfolio/creative practice, temping (including supply teaching), on a zero hours contract or other

3.7%

were either volunteering or on an internship/placement

24.7%

were on a fixed-term contract

58.6%

were on a permanent or open-ended contract

DESPITE THIS LOW PERCENTAGE, SELF-EMPLOYMENT IS ON THE RISE.

The number of freelancers has increased by 36% between 2008 and 2015, with a significant number working in freelance media and IT roles.

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There are an estimated 1.91 million freelancers in the UK but 16-29 year olds only make up 11% of them

  • 16-29

  • 30-39

  • 40-49

  • 50-59

  • 60+

"Many young people embark on the traditional route of full-time employment because of the perceived job security. A regular salary, holiday pay and additional benefits can be attractive to those first starting out. However, in the current climate where uncertainty is rife, no job is truly secure and many employers are hiring freelancers or contractors to fill their talent gap - making this an area of opportunity"

Lynne Hardman, CEO of Working Transitions

SO, WHY AREN’T MORE GRADUATES GOING FREELANCE?

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Only 2% of independent professionals learn about this way of working while at university, despite having all the skills and determination required to pursue a freelance career.

It’s due to a lack of awareness, not a lack of ability.

SELF-EMPLOYED SUCCESS STORIES

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16-34 year-olds make up 26% of the contractors working with ClearSky or Parasol. Here are a few of their stories:

Profile
Matt Cook,
Freelance writer

“I left Manchester University with a Psychology degree and pretty much no idea what I wanted to do or what I would be good at. Now I've worked with Oxfam, Levi's and the BBC amongst others.”

Learn more
Profile
Felicity Luxmoore,
gourmet street food entrepreneur

“I’m glad I didn’t settle for a corporate management scheme. Starting my own business means I have ultimately made my own job to suit my skills and passions.”

Learn more
Profile
Ami Pilkington,
co-owner of a custom campervan company

“I grew up wanting to be a teacher and never planned to work for myself. Now, we've had our work featured in a number of magazines which has been a huge highlight.”

Learn more
Hand Money

AVERAGE SALARY FOR GRADUATES IN EMPLOYMENT:
£21K

Average Full-Time Salary
VS
Contractor Equivalent

Hand Money

AVERAGE SALARY OF CONTRACTORS AGES 18-25:
£28K

“Students and recent graduates often have all the personal and professional qualities you’d look for in a successful freelancer. Importantly, they’re ambitious and self-motivated, so they can take their business forwards and take challenges in their stride. In terms of skills, we’re seeing that most graduate freelancers have taken specialised, creative subjects, so they’ve got the knowledge they need to work with the latest technology and get the job done properly.”

Lydia Wakefield, Education & Training Manager at IPSE

Giving graduates the help they need

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16-34 year-olds make up 26% of the contractors working with ClearSky or Parasol, so we know what it takes to launch a freelance career. Our exclusive guides can help graduates go all the way, from setting up to selling their services.

The Perks of Contracting as a Graduate

From being your own boss, claiming expenses and working flexibly, contracting as a graduate has a lot of perks. Read our guide to see what some of these perks are.

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Business Structure Options for Graduate Contractors

Choosing the best business structure for your needs is important when you first start as a contractor. Our guide gives you a brief overview of the business structures available to you.

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Student Loan Repayments for Contractors

If you took out a student loan to fund your time at university, it's likely you'll be wondering how contracting will affect paying it back. Our guide gives you all the information you need.

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Help and Advice on Becoming a Graduate Contractor

Going limited is a big responsibility, but if you’re a graduate with skill, confidence and drive, there’s little to stop you from launching a successful freelance career. Download our digital publication, WorkStyle, for more information about setting up as a contractor and advice on everything from misguided myths to winning business.

Read WorkStyle

Sources:

HESA /  HESA /  IPSE /  IPSE /  Milkround

Average contractor salary based on parasolgroup.co.uk data