Surrey, United Kingdom (PressExposure) August 14, 2009 -- The gap between unemployment figures and those claiming job seekers allowance could partly be explained by the numbers of people choosing to become self-employed, according to the founder of online social business network Ecademy.
Following reports that the Government is to launch an official enquiry into unemployment and benefit figures, social media entrepreneur and Ecademy founder Penny Power believes that the answer may lie in the number of people who have opted to work for themselves, many of which could be using online social networks to help them win business and generate income.
Working mother of three Ms Power is all too aware of the pressures working parents face when trying to balance the demands of work and family life and believes that self-employment is increasingly becoming the preferred option for both men and women looking for a more 'recession-friendly' work life balance.
"One of the positive impacts of the recession has been to help people focus on the skills that they possess, rather than the job they had. Thanks to advancements on the web and business networking sites like Ecademy, people who have been made redundant now have the means to look for work and generate an income based on their individual skillset without ever having to go near the Job Centre. This helps them to fit work around other family commitments such as childcare, which may have had to change because of new working arrangements, maybe because one partner now has to work longer hours," explains Ms Power.
Mark Lee, Chairman of The Tax Advice Network chose to pursue a self-employed route after he was made redundant early in 2006. He did initially approach the job centre to register for job seekers' allowance but was told it was only payable to those seeking a job and who would be available to take a job.
"I suggest that a key reason for the gap is honesty on the part of potential claimants who have chosen or been forced to work on a self employed basis. This would include contractors, consultants, coaches, speakers, trainers and, of course, those who have chosen entrepreneurship, as did I after I was made redundant early in 2006. I was not willing to lie or to damage the prospects of building up my new business through the distractions of a pretend search for a job and so I didn't proceed with the application. I suspect many others have come to the same conclusion," concludes Lee.
In 2006, research commissioned by Vodafone UK predicted that almost half of the UK's workforce could be self-employed by 2011. It found that 33% of the working population were seriously considering self-employment or had already taken steps to do so. The study also found that people are more likely to enter self-employment if they are starting a family, going through a divorce, getting married or hitting a landmark age. But being laid off was the biggest trigger for people starting up their own business, with one in four start-ups claimed to have been sparked by redundancy.