Journalism has been at the forefront of changes in working practices that have led to massive growth in the freelance workforce, according to employment experts.
John Knell of the Intelligence Agency consultancy estimated the number of self-employed managerial and professional workers grew almost 300 per cent between 1979 and 2001.
In a briefing at the Work Foundation in London, Knell claimed for many the decision to go freelance was made proactively rather than a being a consequence of redundancy.
His research also showed that the majority of freelances have no regrets and do not want to return to staff jobs.
Knell said: “Journalism has been at the vanguard in the change of working practices. There has been a profound shift in the jobs market. Risks inside traditional employment have escalated.”
Knell said demand for freelances was rising. “It is not easy, but everyone who does it doesn’t want to go back. Self-sufficiency is addictive.”
Emma Brierley, chief executive of agency Xchangeteam, cited estimates that 40 per cent of the UK workforce will be freelance by 2010. She said one reason workers gave for going freelance was to “get away from office politics”.
Research conducted by the London Business School among marketing and communications professionals for Xchangeteam showed freelances were cost-effective and a reliable source of talent.