The Diversity of Self-Employment

What would happen if every self-employed person in the UK went on strike? Would it make any difference to your day?

It’s easy to forget the vast array of roles self-employed people fill, but the reality is, when you choose to work for yourself, you also get to choose what it is you actually do. As the largest community of self-employed people in the UK with over 74,000 members, here at The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) we are fortunate to meet freelancers from all industries, some well-known and others much more niche. We’ve met forensic crime scene investigators, accent coaches, origami artists, wine consultants and plenty more. 

Inside section of IPSE storybook, The Day the Self-Employed Went on Strike

While those last examples might not necessarily affect your day-to-day lifestyle if they went on strike (depending on your lifestyle of course), there are many other self-employed roles that could. The self-employed are our doctors, our strategists, our artists and actors, drivers and couriers, teachers and IT technicians. They are women and men, old and young – and you’ll find them in almost every industry, embedded in the fabric of the UK.

In a new picture book released for World Book Day 2018, titled The Day the Self-Employed went on Strike, IPSE tells the story of how a self-employed strike might affect the day-to-day lives of people across the country. A cautionary tale, it follows the day of Henry Jenkins who is reminded of just how important the self-employed are as he faces a number of obstacles due to the nation’s self-employed choosing to go on strike. From his kids’ school support staff to the IT contractors at his work and many other roles in between, Henry’s routine falls to shambles (and can’t even be salvaged by getting a takeaway delivered!). 

Imaginary strike or not, the prevalence of the self-employed becomes especially apparent when you consider the growth of the self-employed population in the UK. IPSE’s research shows that between 2008 and 2017, the number of the solo self-employed (those who work entirely on their own and do not have employees) increased by 34% and contributed £271bn to the UK economy in 2017 – that’s enough to fund the NHS twice over.

There are now almost 5 million self-employed people in the UK which accounts for nearly 15% of our labour force according to IPSE’s research. These numbers demonstrate the importance of representing this self-employed workforce and how incredibly vital they are not just to the UK economy but to our every day lives. Given the freedom and flexibility self-employment brings, it’s no wonder more and more people are turning to this way of working.

Today is National Read a Book Day, so if you’re going to read even just one book, we recommend checking out The Day the Self-Employed went on Strike to remind yourself just how important the self-employed really are!

Meet the author

Christina McLean

Digital Marketing Executive