The next generation of freelancers are here


IPSE’s Education and Training Manager, Lydia Wakefield, visits the university students across the country looking to work for themselves.  

It’s been a busy and exciting few weeks in IPSE’s Education and Training work. I’ve been up and down the country meeting some of our University Partners, Nottingham Trent University, University of Arts London College of Fashion, and University of Liverpool, to speak to groups of students about setting up and running their own businesses. The aim of these workshops is to ensure that those who are looking to become self-employed have the knowledge and confidence to start their freelance career.

Each of our University Partners run a series of events throughout the year to help their students identify the next step after graduation, and for many of them self-employment is a likely next step. All events I’ve been part of with these universities are well attended and bring together a diverse mix of students who are keen to work for themselves.

Their reasons for choosing to consider self-employment at an early stage include knowing the trends in their industry, wanting to earn more money, wanting to be their own boss and having control over their artistic talents.

IPSE’s Education and Training work is helping plug the gap between what’s offered to students by their higher education provider and additional support they really need to succeed. It’s important to address the concerns they have – and tell them how they can be overcome by identifying the resources and support available to them; from their current institution, often available through careers services and enterprise clubs, to what IPSE can provide.

If we’re going to see more graduates becoming their own boss, we need more students to realise self-employment as a viable career option – and that there is plenty of help available for them. For this to happen, universities, IPSE and policymakers all play a role. Universities must find new ways to communicate with potential freelancers, organisations like IPSE must continue to offer expertise, and policymakers must ensure the UK has the right regulatory environment for its growing self-employed army to grow and thrive in.

While on my University travels, I’ve found that students and recent alumni are proving that young freelancers bring a lot to the economy, the local community and the world of freelancing. Some prime examples of talented alumni from our University Partners include NTU alumni Alex Milne, and Rosie Deegan and UAL LCF alumni Davide Wheller and Emma Sexton.

It never ceases to amaze me how talented and motivated young people are. I often hear how people assume they have to have lots of business experience before they can start working for themselves, but working with students proves this wrong every time. From coders to designers, artists to translators, the students I meet are switched on and ensuring they are prepared for the next step.

Never underestimate the talent of the next generation of freelancers!

Meet the author

Lydia Wakefield

Education and Training Manager