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LinkedIn data reveals rise in self-employment

While corporate firms are reducing the size of their workforces, the number of sole traders and small businesses is going up according to new analysis by LinkedIn.

The research is based on a pool of LinkedIn‘s 23 million UK members between April 2016 and April 2017. It reveals that the UK’s biggest firms are seeing the largest staff reductions, especially in retail, financial services and insurance. Only the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector is expanding.

Meanwhile, there was a significant rise in the number of professionals in entrepreneurship (+6.4%) and consulting (+5.8%) roles in the UK between April 2016 and April 2017.

During the same period, there was also an increase in the number of sole traders (+13.5%) and companies with 1-10 employees (+4.1%). When it comes to one-person companies, the biggest increases are in architecture and engineering (+17.9%) and professional services (+16.9%).

“The UK is experiencing record employment levels, despite our research showing that large British businesses are reducing the number of people they employ,” said Josh Graff, UK country manager and VP EMEA at LinkedIn. “This is, in part, due to the healthy number of emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses in the UK, and the employment opportunities they create.

“Our findings should give confidence to professionals who are thinking about taking the leap and striking out on their own. Our research should also be of interest to the UK Government, who will need to put the health of SMEs and sole traders at the top of their agenda as they prepare their strategy for Britain’s economy after Brexit.”

Commenting on the findings, Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “As more and more people ditch traditional jobs working for corporates, they are coming up with a business idea and taking a big risk - to strike out on their own. As a result, we all benefit from our economy becoming more dynamic, innovative and productive.

“To support this growing group of entrepreneurs, the Government must now create a climate that helps all those setting up in business to achieve their ambitions … Crucially, the Government must resist the temptation to revisit its disastrous plans for a tax hike on the self-employed, as that would be a sure-fire way to halt this positive trend in its tracks.”