The vital role freelancers make to the UK economy

Posted on: November 30th, 2011

Last week it was National Freelancers Day in the UK. I went along to a lecture organised by the PCG, who represent the voice of freelancing here, entitled ‘Let’s Talk Freelancing’.

One of the speakers was Professor Andrew Burke from Cranfield School of Management who is currently researching into the key contribution freelancers make to British business innovation and how this contribution affects the UK’s attractiveness as a base for this kind of activity.

The Sunday Telegraph reported his talk last weekend and here is a summary of that article.

Professor Burke argued that, with governments and consumers both cutting their spending in the developed world, the need for companies to invest and generate growth will only increase.

“All hope is being placed on an entrepreneurial Britain gaining new international market share through innovation,” he said. “So, if Britain is to succeed, it needs a sufficient supply of innovative businesses.”

This is where freelancers play an important role. For larger companies, gaining access to people with specialist skills who can be brought in as a variable cost, rather than being hired full-time, removes a big part of the financial risk.

So, for individual businesses, access to quality freelance contracts can be vital in seeing a project through.

Professor Burke pointed out that, because freelancers move from one project to the next, their contribution to the wider economy is amplified, because it is spread across numerous clients.

“I think what’s being missed here is that freelancers are part of the supply of innovation and entrepreneurship – and yet they’re not really recognised for it.”

These days, entrepreneurs receive industry awards, are given industry awards and become media stars. Freelancers, Professor Burke concludes, need to secure a similar type of transformation.”

Source: The Sunday Telegraph November 27 2011



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