It was announced today (7 April) that three London universities are partnering with an online platform for freelancers, UnderPinned, in an effort to help students enhance their skills.
Students from institutions – London Metropolitan University, London College of Communication and St Mary’s University, Twickenham – will be able to enter a virtual office equipped with tools to put together a freelance portfolio, find and manage clients and projects, and write invoices and contracts.
The collaboration will also give students the opportunity to hone slightly more nuanced skills via a freelance business accelerator program, including modules on learning job pricing and customer presentation.
“We produce some of the most skilled people in the world, but we fail to provide them with the knowledge or tools they need to build a business around their capabilities,” said Albert Azis-Clauson, CEO of UnderPinned.
“Our educational commitment to getting people into full-time jobs is fundamentally damaging the opportunities for young people. Companies are increasingly turning to freelancers and hybrid workers, but the self-employed are disproportionately older. “
We plan to expand and collaborate with universities across the country – Albert Azis-Clauson, UnderPinned
The latest figures from the National Statistical Office state that young people between 16 and 29 make up less than 20% of self-employed workers, while those between 40 and 59 represent more than half.
There is also a marked gender gap across the sector, with the UK’s self-employed workforce currently split between 65% men and 35% women.
“Whether they enter the free profession directly or into a new form of hybridized work, young people must have access to the knowledge and tools to market their skills in the modern world of work if they are to be successful,” added Azis-Clauson.
The 4.1 million self-employed in the UK make up 14.8% of the UK workforce, a larger proportion than the US, Germany and France and behind only Italy in the global rankings.
While the share of self-employed workers has increased significantly, a number of latent problems remain in the sector. Perhaps most critically, research conducted by UnderPinned and the Commissioner for Small Businesses found that 41% of bills are consistently paid late to freelancers, with up to 55% being unpaid for work.
The ability of freelancers to convey their value – and recognize it on their own – is one of the key aspects of the new platform, according to the partners who support it.
“Not only do students gain a deeper understanding of their value as freelancers, they are also able to gain tangible experience and present it to future employers as a testament to their unique ability to seek the job that matches their skills.” said Mandip Takhar, placement manager at University of the Arts London, London College of Communication.
From the archive: Why is self-employment a great option?
“UnderPinned’s offering has enhanced our approach to addressing how we guide students and graduates into their desired line of work and help them gain a deeper understanding of their value as creative freelancers in their chosen field of expertise,” he said. added.
This strengthened approach could soon reach institutions outside the capital.
“It’s great that London universities recognize this fundamental shift from traditional linear career paths,” said Azis-Clauson. “The capital is one of the best places in the world to be an entrepreneur, but this is only the beginning.
“We plan to expand and collaborate with universities across the country to help give students of all backgrounds and ages the confidence to become self-employed and to give companies access to the flexibility and skills of freelancers who could transform their business “.
The new initiative helps young freelancers to enhance their skills
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