SELF-EMPLOYED WOMEN DRIVING SCOTS JOBS GROWTH

BILL JAMIESON

Who says Scotland’s entrepreneurial spirit is dying? New research shows that the number of people working for themselves in Scotland now stands at 300,000, representing one in ten jobs across the country.

Indeed Scotland’s improvement in employment in recent years has come almost entirely from people striking out on their own.

Who says Scotland’s entrepreneurial spirit is dying? New research shows that the number of people working for themselves in Scotland now stands at 300,000, representing one in ten jobs across the country. to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Regional Economic Tracker, self-employment has climbed by 11 per cent in the last eight years, compared to a 0.2 per cent expansion in employee jobs.

And it is women who are leading the way, with three times as many women as men deciding to work for themselves since the 2008 financial collapse.


For the past four years Scot Buzz has championed the rise of the self-employed and the start-up sector as more and more people have followed their entrepreneurial dream and set up their own companies.

It is one of the biggest changes in Scotland’s labour force landscape – a transformation being wrought by the explosive rise in online e business and digital marketing.

Massive changes in information technology have also enabled people to work away from the conventional company office, at home or at many of the micro business hubs that have sprung up.

The rise also reflects downsizing by big companies and the sharp rise in out-sourcing. This has enabled self-employed workers to build a portfolio of customers to whom they can supply specialist services and skills.

The largest growth has been in IT and financial services, with success enjoyed by firms like the Edinburgh-based Fanduel fantasy sports business inspiring other entrepreneurs to go it alone.

Says Sebastian Burnside, senior economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland, “This is positive news that Scottish employment figures are returning to, and in fact, exceeding, pre-2008 recession levels.

“It is also positive to see the role entrepreneurship is playing within that. This appetite, especially in Scotland, is a driving force within this upturn in results.

The RBS economists found a distinctive pattern for Scotland, as firms tended not to expand their recruitment north of the border, but looked to freelance workers.

That can be a good indicator, where those workers have high-value skills and are starting up businesses. But it can also be a sign of workers being more vulnerable to uncertain working hours and conditions, and easier for employers to shed.

Another marked trend has been a rise in the number of older workers, particularly among those aged more than 65. Official ONS labour market figures show an almost unbroken rise in over 65s in work, with the total n ow standing in excess of one million. Many of these may be using self-employment as a means of augmenting their pension or phasing their move into full retirement.

But Sebastian Burnside also sounds a caveat. “We have”, he says, “to temper some of the enthusiasm for these results in places. For example, we have noticed an increasing trend in the volume of self-employed workers in construction but a big source of that growth has come at the expense of employee jobs.”

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