By Lea Pachta

The UK’s economic recession has forged a new generation of home-grown entrepreneurs, with more than one-in-five respondents describing themselves as ‘self-employed’, and among the rest, almost half expressing a desire to work more independently, according to the latest survey from global workforce solutions leader Kelly Services.

The findings are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 134,000 people, including approximately 6,000 in the U.K.

The survey also finds that 20 percent of respondents have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and want to start their own business, with Gen Y (aged 18-29) the most enthusiastic about a commercial venture.

Those who are self-employed - also known as independent contractors or free agents — are more likely to be Gen X (aged 30-47) and baby boomers (aged 48-65), and are mostly male.

Kelly Services General Manager John Callagher says, "Many of those who lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis are seizing the opportunity to reinvent themselves as independent contractors, freelancers and consultants, as well as starting their own businesses. Today, more people are taking charge of their own careers and view self-employment as a way of achieving personal and professional success.”

Results of the survey in the U.K reveal:

• 22 percent of respondents are currently self-employed, made up of 32 percent of baby boomers, 23 percent of Gen X and 19 percent of Gen Y.

• The highest concentration of self-employed workers are in London (25 percent), followed by the Midlands and South West (22 percent), North East, North West and South East (20 percent), Scotland (19 percent), and Wales (18 percent).

• Fear Factor - The main factors cited by respondents that would prevent a move into self-employment are uncertainty about income (55 percent), lack of support (16 percent), and risk of failure (10 percent).

• Baby boomers and Gen X are more confident than Gen Y that their skills will be sufficient to enable a move into self-employment.

• 45 percent of respondents believe they have the sufficient skills to start their own business.

• Green Shoots: 20 percent of respondents plan to start a business, comprising 23 percent of Gen Y, 17 percent of Gen X, and 12 percent of baby boomers.

The appeal of self-employment coincides with a trend toward the outsourcing of non-core functions, which has seen many organisations reduce their permanent workforce, creating new opportunities for these independent contractors.

When seen from a generational perspective, there is a pattern of younger workers being more enthusiastic than their older counterparts about embarking on a more flexible and entrepreneurial work arrangement.

Those industries with the greatest concentration of self-employed workers were Education, Government, Engineering and IT.

“Our survey results indicate an increase in the number of people who are either engaged in or are planning some form of entrepreneurial activity. Despite economic uncertainty, the idea of moving out of the traditional employment relationship is appealing to those who want the flexibility of working for themselves,” John concludes.

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