Graduates choosing to go it alone rather than become employees

The number of graduates choosing to work for themselves after university, as opposed to becoming employees, has nearly doubled in the past year, a study finds.

According to research by online freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour, the number of recent graduates registering as freelancers or micro-business owners has increased by 97 per cent, with the number of male graduates up 110 per cent and female graduates up 94 per cent. 

Some 12,600 signed up to the website in the past 12 months, with the most popular skills being offered by graduates being website design and mobile app development.

The site figures also reveal that the number of 18 to 21-year-olds registering on the website has increased by 69 per cent over the past 12 months, suggesting that a growing number of young people are choosing the self-employed path over university.

The latest graduate unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that around 9 per cent of recent graduates are out of work, while a significant 47 per cent were forced to take ‘non-graduate’ jobs after leaving university.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour says there has never been a better time to start a business.

‘For those leaving university with student debts, the barrier to launching a business is typically a lack of start-up capital – and even though working for themselves may be an ambition for the future, the obvious and sensible first move is to find a job,’ he adds. 

‘However, we’re seeing a growing band of ambitious graduates who aren’t daunted by the prospect of venturing out on their own, and for those who do take the leap, it’s never been easier or cheaper to start a business.’

Thrasyvoulou continues that the online and mobile revolution means you can literally launch a business from your kitchen table, with no need to rent a permanent office or to commit to full-time staff.

‘The internet has given the small business owner of today access to a global marketplace of opportunities and expertise. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking, and we expect to see more graduates, encouraged by seeing more and more of their peers starting business ventures, choosing to work for themselves, rather than fighting each other for existing vacancies.’

Further reading on starting a business

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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