By Gary Lawton, Director, Russam GMS

The latest employment figures from the Office of National Statistics[i] showed that 73% of people aged 16 to 64 were employed from July to September 2014, up from 71.6% earlier in the year.

This positive news about the jobs market was also highlighted in the Government’s Autumn Statement[ii] this month, which reported that employment in the UK has risen to a record high of 30.8 million, more than 1 million above its pre-recession peak.

What’s more, since 2010, levels of employment have increased more rapidly than any other G7 country.

Strikingly, growth is being experienced in the permanent jobs market as well as the market for self-employment.

Recent ONS analysis showed that fewer people are leaving self-employment, as well as a rise in the number of people self-employed for 20 years or more.

In the Autumn Statement, it was suggested that the rise in the number of self-employed is due to ongoing structural changes in the labour market, rather than people becoming self-employed because they cannot find other work.

During the financial crisis it was thought that many people turned to independent working because they were unable to find full-time employment. However, these figures show the opposite. We’re in a period of relative economic recovery and yet people are continuing to work independently and are not returning to full-time employment as expected.

We believe this is because people are making lifestyle choices to work independently and at the same time, business demand is driving the market.

We’re seeing strong growth in the interim market with many more businesses using experienced freelancers and interims to fill senior skills gaps and to drive strategic projects.

For many companies it offers a way of getting the best expertise in to resource projects in a flexible and low risk way that also makes financial sense.