Almost half of UK graduates are now considering becoming a contractor, according to a new Next Generation of Freelancers study published by online professional insurance broker PolicyBee.

The report aims to highlight the changing attitudes towards self-employment among ‘millennials’. It reveals that 56% have undertaken some form of flexible work during their studies, with 44% now open to contracting as a career option.

Many young entrepreneurs are not receiving the necessary support to begin work as a freelancer, however, with 62% saying self-employment was not discussed at all by universities. A further 19% said it had been discussed but not enough relevant information had been provided.

When asked about the positive attributes self-employed people bring the work place, the 1,002 recent graduates said up-to-date subject knowledge was the main advantage (55%), ahead of flexibility (50%), not being limited by inherited systems and processes (49%), and creative thinking (47%).

The study commissioner, Kerri-Ann Hockley, said: “More and more people are turning to self-employment to overcome the difficulties of our current economic situation. The study clearly shows that many graduates have an appetite for self-employment and need to make an informed decision about whether this is the right career choice for them.”

She went on to say that freelancing and self-employment were previously only considered options for experienced professionals. This has now changed, with Ms Hockley explaining: “The latest generation don’t see this as a barrier. Thanks to the changing job market and developments in technology, graduates can enjoy greater independence.”

The report also found that graduates from Russell Group Universities, which include Oxford and Cambridge, were less likely to have been exposed to self-employment or freelancing work.

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