There is a growing number of graduates turning to self-employment after completing their degrees, with 4.8% of 2010/2011 leavers choosing to go it alone, which is 3% higher than in 2007.
Self-employment: a viable career alternative for graduates?
This increase in self-employment has taken place despite graduate vacancies being at a five-year high, with 17,217 openings available in firms surveyed in a recent High Fliers Research study. However, it has also been found that there are 46 applicants for every post and over 20,000 university leavers remain unemployed for six months, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
With fierce competition for graduate roles, possible periods of unemployment and self-employment success stories, including Nick D’Aloisio and Mark Zuckerberg, it is little wonder that a growing number of study leavers are choosing to take action and craft out their own employment opportunities rather than joining the masses applying to graduates vacancies.
Setting up for success
Many universities encourage their students to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude to broaden their career opportunities. By making the most of the opportunities that your university has made available, you can build your enterprising skills and widen your experience ready for the future.
Business learning is now often integrated into the curriculum of many degrees, with project management, budget planning and networking being amongst the skills that students have the chance to develop in an educational environment centring on vision, flair and opportunity.
A number of institutions also run business competitions and have enterprise societies for students. With entrepreneurship now being so heavily embedded in university education and the student lifestyle, it provides a greater opportunity to become equipped with the skills and expertise needed to go it alone once you leave university.
Support for the self-employed
Plenty of government encouragement and support has also been made available for new businesses set up by graduates or other professionals, as they can help to generate economic growth and job openings, which in turn can help the UK to make a stronger recovery from the recession.
In the 2013 budget George Osborne revealed that he had plans to further invest in start-ups and small businesses in order to boost enterprise and reignite growth through innovation, with tax relief for investors, the Start-Up Loans Scheme and the Small Business Research Initiative.
There is also further support available for self-employed graduates from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust, Business Gateway and SIE, which have been set up exclusively to support and nurture entrepreneurial talent. Meanwhile, a large number of businesses and agencies in the UK are designed to provide solutions to those new to contracting or wanting to set up their own business, offering support on a multitude of different areas, ranging from finances and legal considerations to branding and logos.
With such varied support both inside and outside of university available to graduates heading into self-employment, it is currently a good time to choose to freelance, contract or set up your own business. The increasing number of graduates turning to self-employment showcases a confidence amongst other study leavers in their ability to start up alone at a time where innovation is encouraged and needed. So, will you be joining your peers by making the most of this current opportunity and turning to self-employment?