Report: Global Workshop on Freelancing
IPSE Research Manager, Suneeta Johal rounds-up the latest IPSE Research Seminar – The Global Workshop on Freelancing & Independent Professional Research.
It’s well known that self-employment is growing both in size and influence, not just in the UK but all across Europe too. The continent has quickly become a breeding ground for those wanting to start their own business – a place where working for yourself is welcomed, appreciated and admired, rather than judged and stereotyped as it once was in years gone by.
As self-employment grows, so does the hype around it. Research gathered suggests that this way of working is set to become even more popular, so it’s no wonder self-employment has quickly become an agenda topping subject in Parliament. Politicians are keeping one eye firmly on the needs of this group, knowing full well that the small business vote could swing the next General Election. Professors and academics are also watching closely, it seems everybody wants to learn more about the dramatic rise in self-employment that’s taking place.
For us at IPSE it’s essential we continue to learn more about our sector. Armed with more research and a better understanding about the trends in self-employment, IPSE will be in a more advantageous position to influence. It will enhance our influence on the Government to create a freer, fairer environment for those who work for themselves.
With that in mind, last Friday we held our second IPSE Research Seminar in London, where we brought together over a dozen leading academics from around the world to discuss our way of working.
Freelance and self-employment experts spent the day presenting their ideas, sharing research and challenging one another.  From the Institute of Employment Studies (Brighton) to Alpen-Adria University (Austria), Montpellier Business School (France), Erasmus University (Netherlands) and the University of Vechta (Germany) to as far away as Monash University, Australia, the seminar was full of specialists in the area.
Professor Andrew Burke of Cranfield School of Management opened proceedings, arguing that independent professionals need a more accurate definition. He explained that for politicians to cut red-tape and improve the self-employed landscape, they must begin understand who this group of self-employed people actually are. This was clearly food for thought as John Kitching from Kingston University and Tui McKeown from Monash, Australia took to the stage to have their say too.
As the day progressed, every issue under the self-employed umbrella was covered: from the importance of freelancers to the economy and the vital role this group plays in business, to the challenges they face and the recognition they receive in policy making. The day was a learning curve for everyone – me included!
And this was the very point of the exercise and the reason we facilitate these seminars. As an organisation, we can draw from research gathered from around the world to challenge decision makers in Parliament and Whitehall to ensure self-employment in the UK can truly flourish.
In our line of work, knowledge is most certainly power and the more often we bring together and provide a platform for these discussions to take place, the better.  

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