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Contractors may be young at heart but not necessarily young

In news that will certainly rattle a few cages, new research reveals well over half of the nation’s self-employed entrepreneurs are over the age of 50.

So much for the idea that only young bucks throw caution to the wind and become their own bosses, or at least if the Cranfield School of Management can be believed! The school’s Business Growth Programme found that only two per cent of the nation’s self-employed entrepreneurs – and that includes freelancers and umbrella company contractors – were under the age of 30. Meanwhile, the over-50 crowd comprises a full 54 per cent!

In other words, younger Brits are certainly letting the side down when it comes to driving the economy forward. Apparently the days of young wunderkinds the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are over. Of course this could show other trends as well, such as older Brits having to turn to self-employment out of necessity in the wake of the credit crisis and the accompanying recession that gave us all such a hard time for years and only now seems to be slackening its grip upon us enough to spend time, money and energy conducting clever little research studies about how old the average self-employed Brit happens to be.

In a way the survey results do make sense to me; for what it’s worth, older Brits are more common to have financial obligations such as mortgages and families to support, prompting them to do whatever it takes to keep the cash rolling in. If that meant dropping their existing job – or getting sacked in the wake of the recession – and pursuing a more lucrative career working on their own, doing what it takes to keep a roof over your head is a fantastic motivator. Meanwhile, Brits under the age of 30 probably just moved back in with Mum and Dad after uni, halfheartedly trying to get a job at the local Asda to no avail.

Listen, I’m not trying to take the piss out of younger Brits but the skills shortage isn’t made up of older, experienced individuals but younger Brits that don’t have the expertise needed to qualify for the best jobs or even any job for that matter. That’s more a failure on the part of our education system than anything else, so don’t blame the university students.

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