Highly skilled limited company contractors and freelancers are the individuals driving the UK's self-employment growth, not the gig economy, according to a new report.
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has published a new analysis of the nation's labour market in conjunction with Kingston University. It shows that highly skilled contractors accounted for almost half (46 per cent) of self-employed workers in Britain as of the end of 2017.
What's more, the contribution that these individuals make to the country's economy is estimated to come in at £125 billion a year, up markedly from the sum of £119 billion reported in 2016.
IPSE's research found that the majority (320,000) of UK freelancers work in media, artistic or literary roles, 236,000 are either managers or proprietors in another area of service, 135,000 are functional managers or directors, and 134,000 work in the education sector.
Chris Bryce, Chief Executive Officer of IPSE, commented: "This report goes a long way to dispelling the myth that activity in the self-employment sector is occurring mainly in the 'platform' or 'gig' economies, when the real growth is in highly skilled freelancer occupations."
IPSE's data also shows that while more men than women currently work for themselves in the UK (57 per cent vs 43 per cent), the number of females choosing to work in this way has increased by more than two-thirds (67 per cent) over the past ten years. At the same time, the number of men entering self-employment has risen by just 33 per cent.
Mr Bryce added: "The rise of self-employed working women - especially freelance mothers - demonstrates that self-employment is a viable way to increase workforce participation."
He concluded by calling on the UK government to commit to protecting the rights of personal service company contractors and freelancers, particularly once Brexit comes into reality.