Graduates increasingly setting up on their own rather than joining labour market

The number of graduates fresh out of university choosing to work for themselves, rather than becoming employees, has more than doubled in the past year, finds research.

The survey by PeoplePerHour looked at the number of entrepreneurial graduates who signed up on the website within a year of leaving university.

Over the past 12 months, the number of recent graduates registering as freelancers or micro-business owners has increased by 105 per cent, with the number of male graduates up 114 per cent and female graduates up 96 per cent. The most popular skills being offered by grads are website design and mobile app development.

PeoplePerHour figures also reveal that the number of 18 to 21-year-olds registering on the website has increased by 70 per cent over the past 12 months, suggesting that a growing number of young people are choosing the self-employed path over university.

The last graduate unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that around one in five new graduates were out of work, while a significant number were forced to take lower-skilled jobs after leaving university.

Many graduates have specific skills that are in demand from the business community, and with the average hourly rate charged by freelancers on PeoplePerHour around £22 per hour, graduates numbers have boomed on the website since last year.

And with the relatively low cost of starting a business from scratch and advancements in mobile and online technology making it much easier to start and run businesses from anywhere, it is easy to see why the idea of going it alone is so popular.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour says, ‘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.

‘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 has never been easier or cheaper to start a business.’

Thrasyvoulou says that the online and mobile revolution means you can literally launch a business from your kitchen table.

‘The internet has give 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.’

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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