An unprecedented number of young people are opting for freelancing and contracting as more graduates and 18- to 21-year-olds than ever before take the self-employment option, new figures from the online freelancer website PeoplePerHour reveal.

The number of recently-qualified graduates registering with PeoplePerHour as freelancers has soared by 97% in the last year alone. The number of male graduates sky-rocketed by 110%, while the number of female graduates leapt by 94%.

An even younger age group also appears to be eschewing university and opting instead for freelancing: the number of 18- to 21-year-olds registering shot up by 69% over the last 12 months.

Many of the graduates choosing this option have skill sets that are particularly in demand by the business community, with website design and mobile app development emerging as the most popular talents on offer.

With ONS figures showing that 47% of graduates were forced into ‘non-graduate’ roles upon leaving university and a further 9% unable to find work at all, it is perhaps hardly surprising that growing numbers are exploring freelancing and contracting as alternative career paths to traditional employment.

PeoplePerHour founder and CEO Xenios Thrasyvoulou commented: “[W]e’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’s never been easier or cheaper to start a business.”

As their self-employed experience accrues, this generation of graduates may well become more committed to freelancing than any previous generation. Umbrella Companies may shortly find that the average age of their employees has fallen considerably.

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