Introduction and Thesis Statement
There are a number of causes for people to seek self-employment. Perhaps the most common factor would be the unavailability of a suitable job that meets the expectation of individuals. Even though the unemployment level in the UK is far lesser than many other developed countries; “ The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over for the UK was 6. 0%, for the period June 2014 to August 2014” (Office for National Statistics, 2014), and the reason why many individuals seek self-employment could be because of their need for recognition; entrepreneurial or single employee micro-businesses offer the scope for recognition. A third reason could be that individuals prefer to be their own boss, rather than take orders from others, or it could be because some are unable to find appropriate paid employment. Another reason why individuals may choose to be self-employed could be because of flexible working hours that may not be available in paid employment. Even though immigration and redundancy continue to challenge the government vis-a-vis its economic policies, the urge to be independent has prompted many UK men and women to become self-employed. While risks are, the challenge, freedom, and satisfaction of being independent are reasons or causes for more and more British entrepreneurs mushrooming.
The interest in entrepreneurship has grown considerably over the past few years because of the relationship that is thought to exist between entrepreneurial activity and economic development. As new firms can create more employment opportunities (Parker and Johnson 1996; Ashcroft and Love 1996), and since new businesses can develop new things through innovation, there is every possibility of the creation of knowledge and economic growth (Audretsch, 2007). Considering the above, there is a strong possibility that the government will encourage more entrepreneurial programs to lure prospective individuals into business. There is no doubt that self-employment has come of age and more and more individuals are moving to become entrepreneurs. Finally, globalization has also contributed to the development of entrepreneurs, as the scope for expanding businesses across borders has encouraged individuals to spot opportunities that generate healthy income. According to Evans and Leighton (1989), it was assumed that “ approximately a tenth of all employed workers would become self-employed,” and though the figures are not available, there is every right to believe that more and more people are moving away from paid employment to self-employment (Dawson, Henley and Latrielle, 2009).
A number of scholars have studied the causes for more and more individuals changing their professional preferences over the years, and the results fell in line with most of the assumptions recorded. Taylor (1996) used the 1991 UK data to study the cause for the rise in self-employment and found that self-employed Britons didn’t regard pay and security as serious criteria for changing their profession, and instead, did so because of the freedom, challenge, pleasure, and work satisfaction that they wouldn’t get from paid-employment. For those who didn’t care much about the pay and security, self-employment would have been the best possible option available to them, which they took. They are willing to take risks, and those who do take risk, will, with resilience, become successful. Smeaton (2003), by using UK data from 1986 and 2000, found that between 1986 and 2000, there was a ten percent increase in men who found self-employment/redundancy as a motivating factor for them to become self-employed, whereas for women, the figures fluctuated between five to ten percent. While men found the preference for being their own boss for change, women cited reasons such as being their own boss, or going into business with a family member, or doing something of interest as their main reason for change (Dawson, Henley and Latrielle, 2009).
Data on redundancies in the first quarter of 2009 at its peak showed that the redundancy rate for those aged 16–24 was 17. 7 per thousand workers, compared with 11. 8 for the population as a whole.
The growth of self-employed businesses creates more job opportunities. As businesses grow, there will be the need for more workers to enhance or sustain the business, and this will help ease the unemployment in the country. The income generated through income tax and professional tax will help the government pay salaries, develop infrastructure, and provide better amenities to the people of the country. Therefore, the growth of self-employed businesses will only serve society better.
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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted that much before the UK labor market slowed down in the spring of 2008, a number of researches showed contradictory evidences of youth performance between 2005 and 2007. “ While some noted that the youth employment rate was twelve percent points higher than the OECD countries, long-term unemployment decreased by over 7 percentage points over the past decade” (Bell and Blanchflower, 2010). The young British population were less likely to take up temporary work, but would willingly take part time jobs than their counterparts in the OECD. Similarly, dropout rates for British youth are far below that of the OECD average. Low-paid employment continues to dominate, but is has halved since the early 1990s. In comparison, the OECD report shows that a number of problems continue to hurt the youth labour market performance there.
McKie, Biese and Jyrkinen (2013) say that in the UK, thirty-eight percent of managers are women, while the figure is thirty-six percent in Finland, and the average across the EU is thirty-three percent. However, there are nearly forty percent employees who have a woman as their immediate superior in Finland, which is the highest rate in the EU. The figures speak for themselves. While more women take on responsible jobs in the EU and Finland, the numbers are comparatively lower in the UK. This seems to suggest that more women in the UK are looking for part-time or self-employment, so that they can meet their needs. Despite trade union and business initiatives, there seems to be an affinity to work under paid-employment in the EU and Finland because, in both these countries, business can best be described as leaning toward a ‘ globalized forms of work,’ where long working hours and relatively inflexible work patterns dominate work culture (McKie, Biese and Jyrkinen, 2013). Such long working hours and inflexible working days present challenges to women in particular, as they have to work and raise a family (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2008) at the same time. There is a shift toward self-employment with women in the EU and Finland just as much as it already has in the UK. In Finland for example, thirty percent of women are entrepreneurs, and sixty percent of their businesses are located in service sectors (Ministry of Employment and the Economy, 2008), and in Scotland, thirty-one percent of all self-employed are women (Scottish Government, 2009). There is absolutely no doubt that there is a conspicuous exodus of women from paid-employment to self-employment not because it gives them the freedom to balance their responsibilities at home with work, but because it offers them the luxury to set their own time, and participate in family or family-oriented business. “ Self-employment among women is growing in Scandinavian countries and the UK, and is being actively promoted for all adults across the EU” (McKie, Biese and Jyrkinen, 2013).
On the prospect of self-employment, I would say that it would be difficult to engage in a full-time responsible profession at this moment, as it will conflict with my studies. Business involves a lot of personal time, and unless I have the time to seriously challenge myself and succeed, it would be futile to even consider it at this moment. However, yes, I would definitely like to become self-employed. The reasons are clear; I want to be my own boss, set my own goals, and work on my terms. I will be glad to carry whatever I learn here into my business and ensure that I put them into practice. Self-employment offers flexibility, recognition, and satisfaction in whatever you do. The opportunities are immense in business, and with globalization, the opportunities to explore different businesses is high and worth taking the risk. There is nothing better than to reflect on your success.
The rise in self-employment in the UK shows that people seek change. The restrictions that paid-employment has, has become a dampener, and young men and women alike are now changing their profession to suit their needs. While challenges remain in business, some of the reasons quoted by aspiring entrepreneurs are the unavailability of a suitable job that meets their expectations, their need for recognition, desire to be their own boss, challenges and the thrill of success, and flexible in working. As more and more entrepreneurs drown the landscape of businesses, the society will benefit from more employment opportunities, and the government will receive more funds through professional and individual taxes.
Bell, D. and Blanchflower, D. (2010). UK unemployment in the great recession. National Institute Economic Review, 214(1), pp. 3–25.
Dawson, C., Henley, A. and Latrielle, P. (2009). Why do individuals choose self-employment? University of Bath.
McKie, L., Biese, I. and Jyrkinen, M. (2013). ‘ The Best Time is Now!’: The Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Women Opting in to Self-Employment. Gender, Work & Organization, 20(2), pp. 184–196.
Office for National Statistical, (2014). Regional Labour Market, October 2014. [online] Available at: http://www. ons. gov. uk/ons/dcp171778_380526. pdf [Accessed 23 Oct. 2014].