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New wave of independent, self-employed free agents emerging around the world, Kelly® international workforce survey finds

New wave of independent, self-employed free agents emerging around the world, Kelly® international workforce survey finds


Economic uncertainty has fueled a growing trend toward self-employment and entrepreneurialism with one-in-five respondents worldwide now working outside the traditional employment relationship, and 50 percent saying that they would like to do so, according to the latest survey results from workforce solutions leader Kelly Services®.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

The findings are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 134,000 people in 29 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

The rise of the self-employed, often known as independent contractors or ‘free agents,’ is most pronounced in North America, with 26 percent identifying themselves in this category, compared with 19 percent in Asia Pacific, and 17 percent in Europe.

The survey also finds that almost a quarter of all respondents would like to start their own business, with younger workers the most likely to pursue a business venture.

The baby boomer generation (aged 48-65) make up the largest share of this expanding group, but the desire to move to a more flexible and independent career status is shared by both Gen X (aged 30-47) and Gen Y (aged 18-29). Men are more likely than women to be self-employed and to want to start their own businesses.

"The economic downturn has resulted in a new way of thinking about careers and job security. Many people have watched their jobs disappear and now want to do something that puts them in more control of their career,” says Kelly Services Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, George Corona. “These are often people with many years of experience, who may have been displaced and who have taken an entrepreneurial approach to marketing their skills.”
Key generational findings of the survey reveal that:
20 percent of those surveyed are working outside the traditional employment relationship as freelancers, consultants, independent contractors or free agents, comprising 28 percent of baby boomers, 20 percent of Gen X and 18 percent of Gen Y. Of those not working independently, 12 percent would like to do so.

For all age groups, the main factors preventing a move to greater independence is uncertainty about income, while younger workers are also concerned about the risk of failure, and older workers worry about the cost of healthcare. 30 percent of Gen Y say they would like to start their own business, compared with 22 percent of Gen X and 14 percent of baby boomers.

Almost half of all those surveyed (48 percent) say they feel that their current skills would be sufficient to enable them to start a business, with baby boomers and Gen X (both 54 percent) more confident than Gen Y (40 percent).

There is a feeling among all groups that the market demand for their skills will remain strong over the coming year. “Many of those who lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis have had to reinvent themselves as independent contractors, freelancers and consultants. This self-employment trend may continue as more people become attracted by the autonomy, independence, and flexibility of working for themselves,” Corona concludes.

For more information about the survey results and key global findings, please visit the Kelly Global Workforce Index.

About the Kelly Global Workforce Index
The Kelly Global Workforce Index is an annual survey revealing opinions about work and the workplace from a generational viewpoint. Approximately 134,000 people from North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific responded to the 2010 survey with results published on a quarterly basis. In 2009, Kelly Services was the recipient of a MarCom Gold Award for the Kelly Global Workforce Index in the Research/Study category.

About Kelly Services
Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions. Kelly offers a
comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire and direct-hire basis. Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to 480,000 employees annually. Revenue in 2009 was $4.3 billion. Visit