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Millennials: A force to be reckoned with in the contractor world

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Thursday 25th Aug, 2016

Millennials are fast taking over the labour market, and perhaps surprisingly to some, a large proportion of this demographic want to work for themselves as limited company contractors, freelancers or in another self-employed capacity.

As a result, the traditional concept of work has been challenged significantly, with the days of the nine-to-five office job apparently numbered, and millennials becoming a force to be reckoned with in the contracting world.

But what does this mean for existing contractors? And how exactly are millennials poised to change the face of contracting for good?

Why millennials want to work through their own limited company

The opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance and enjoy greater flexibility are factors that influence many people's decisions to work for themselves, with a recent survey carried out by ManpowerGroup revealing that millennials want a new level of control over their careers.


More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of workers aged between 18 and 35 are planning to take breaks from their jobs of over four weeks at a time in the future - something that contracting allows them to do.

In addition, the research found that more than half of millennials would consider taking on multiple jobs in the future, while many would also freelance or take advantage of the growing gig economy, which offers a whole new level of flexibility.

The ManpowerGroup report also led to the discovery that millennials are extremely dedicated to their careers, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of those questioned planning to work past the age of 65 and 12 per cent intending to work until the day they die. With this in mind, it is clear why millennials want the flexibility from their careers to be able to take a long break now and again, and working on a contract basis is one way to achieve this.


A 2013 study carried out by Millennial Branding and led to the discovery that 60 per cent of Generation Y typically leave a job within three years, indicating that millennials want variety and the chance to gain a wide range of experience from their careers. Again, this provides an insight into why so many 18 to 35-year-olds want to work for themselves, so they have the opportunity to get more out of their working life than they would in the traditional nine-to-five office job.

Greater control in a new age

Because this generation came of age during an economic recession, millennials have had to think differently about forging a career path than their Generation X counterparts. Consequently, many have drawn on their passions and strengths to build their own limited companies or offer their expertise on a freelance basis, as they have the confidence they can add value to clients and boost their income as a result. And, as a social media-savvy generation, millennials have been able to successfully self-promote themselves in a way that wasn't possible for previous generations.

A Lucky Attitude survey also looked at the reasons why millennials don't want to follow a more traditional career path, with responses including "better pay", "diversity keeps your skills sharp - freelance really accelerates your learning curve", "self-employment means never having to be unemployed again" and "self-employment has the same career benefits, but without the office politics".

How can existing contractors compete with millennials?

For limited company contractors who have been in the business for a long time, the prospect of millennials taking over the labour market may seem daunting.

However, by keeping their skills and qualifications as up-to-date as possible, existing contractors should find no reason why they are unable to compete on an equal footing with millennials, and they have the added bonus of years of experience in their favour.

By utilising the services of an accountancy service such as PayStream's My PSC, existing contractors can relieve a little of the administrative burden associated with running a limited company, providing them with more time to spend on getting their skills as up-to-date as possible so they are in the best position to compete with the growing millennial workforce.

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