News

January 27, 2012 - Anonymous

Rise in self-employed leading to “odd job” culture, claims CIPD

A rise in the number of self-employed to a record high is evidence of an “odd job” culture emerging in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has claimed.

According to a new study by the CIPD the number of people in the UK working for themselves has gone up by 8 per cent to a record high of 4.14 million since 2008.

But the newly self-employed are not traditional sole traders, with one in five being unskilled, 60 per cent women and 89 per cent working fewer than 30 hours a week.

This profile suggests an “odd job” culture where people are doing whatever they can to make ends meet while they wait for the job market to recover, said the CIPD’s chief economic adviser Dr John Philpott.

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,” he said.

However, the CIPD’s conclusion has been challenged by business groups, small-business owners and the Government, who say the rise is equally likely to be the result of a long-term change in UK working culture.

“People realise that it’s possible to work for yourself now,” said self-employed editor Liz Broomfield of Libro Editing. “A lot of women returning to work after having children are deciding to work part-time because they realise they don’t have to do full-time work as they try to raise a family.”

National Enterprise Network chief executive Dawn Whiteley, echoed Broomfield’s thoughts: “What the CIPD report doesn’t take account of is that the economy has shifted away from very big businesses. The whole of our workforce has changed over the last 20 years and there are lots of examples where people are working for three or four employers rather than one.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) also refuted the report’s suggestion that increased self-employment was linked to large-scale public-sector downsizing, pointing out that there had been a gradual rise in self-employment since 2004.

“It’s true there’s been a particularly large increase in self-employment in the last few months,” a DWP spokesperson said. “Since 2010, total flows into self-employment have been fairly flat, which is not obviously consistent with the rise in self-employment being driven by more people taking it up having left jobs in the public sector.”