By Lyndsey Hall
According to a study commissioned by IPSE, since 2008 there has been a 46.5 per cent increase in freelancers over the age of fifty. Accounting for those freelancers who were under 50 in 2008 and have since come of age, that is still a big increase. The over 50s now account for 72 per cent of all self-employed people.
Sherridan Hughes, career consultant and psychologist for the British Psychological Society, believes that “it’s a lot to do with financial security. At 50, people have paid off their mortgage, there are no school fees and maybe their parents left them some money – it’s a good time to take a risk.” Darren Fell, CEO of Crunch, an online accountancy firm for freelancers, thinks it’s a sign that the over 50s are moving with the times: “When this generation started their careers, self-employment was pretty rare, but now it’s a perfectly normal choice. After 30 or 40 years commuting to a 9-to-5 job, they are seeing freelancers in cafés, or have friend who work from home, and want a piece of the action themselves.”
According to Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University, longer life expectancy could also be credited with a rise in “three-quarter-life” career crises: “We are living longer than ever before, and as long as people remain fit and healthy, they want to be contributing.”
For some over 50s, a health scare could be the catalyst to seek out a more flexible lifestyle that allows for travel, socialising and new hobbies, as well as bringing in an income. For others, a “now or never” attitude might prompt them to abandon a 30 year career in a stable industry to follow a dream they never dared to before.
Whatever the reason, freelancing has given many over 50s a new lease of life, allowing them to positively contribute to society and earn a living, whilst enjoying some of the flexibility and freedom that was previously reserved for retirement. So, next time you’re hiring a freelancer for a job, don’t be surprised if your applicants are a little more experienced than expected!
What do you think of the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics? Were you surprised to find almost three quarters of freelancers are over fifty? We’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
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