‘Weaker than headlines suggest’: Bleak reality of job market masked by rise in North West self-employed

By Danielle Wainwright

The worrying truth about the job market has been revealed by North West self-employment figures released yesterday, according to the TUC general secretary.

A 36,000 increase in the region’s self-employed over the last four years was revealed by the Office for National Statistics – a rise of more than 10%.

With 358,000 self-employed in 2008, new figures from show there are now 394,000, self-employment is a risk more now seem willing to take.

Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Self-employment is normally a very small part of the workforce.

“The fact that it’s been outstripping employee job growth shows that the UK labour market is far weaker than headlines suggest.

“The recent rise in job levels is being driven by self-employed, part-time and temporary jobs, rather than the full-time, permanent work that many people want and need.”

The government’s new start-up scheme, endorsed by Dragons’ Den star James Caan, could make it easier for new businesses to get going.

David Cameron praised the scheme at an event in Preston. He said: “The government’s role has got to be to try to do everything we can to encourage more start-ups and then to help them to grow, to get finance and take people on.”

The scheme has recently raised the age limit of applications from 24 to 30 as only 3,000 applications have been received – failing to meet the government’s 40,000 target.

Following in the footsteps of moguls such as Richard Branson, Peter Jones and Sir Alan Sugar, over 350,000 more people tune-in to watch budding entrepreneurs plea for cash on BBC2 show Dragon’s Den.

For younger entrepreneurs, leaving school in such a bad job market, self-employment has become a fast-track way to start their career and make money.

Charlie Gould, a Pole Dancing teacher who owns her own studio in Bolton, has other reasons that made her want to work for herself.

After leaving her job in 2008, she opened up her studio in 2010 so that she could shape her work around her family.

Miss Gould said: “The biggest benefit to working self-employed is I can work it around my children, so save on childcare and don’t have to depend on it too much.

“I was being messed about by my boss, and was advised by a friend that I’d make more money working for myself with less stress.”

She said she had never considered running her own business before, but has never looked back since taking the plunge.

“It’s definitely been challenging at times, the main reason being I’m a single mum now with four children, but compared to a 9-5 job I think I’m definitely blessed in the work I have.”

The devoted mum, as well as many others, has found that self-employment has benefits in keeping their family unit strong.

Picture courtesy WorldSkills, with thanks.

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