Consulting is no longer a path for retirees. The rise of the gig economy is funding and fuelling start-up culture among younger professionals
It was traditionally the domain of those looking to bridge the gap between full-time work and retirement. But the consulting sector is now attracting increasing numbers of younger executives who are swapping job security for freedom. Many are looking for greater work flexibility and racking up high billable hours in a bid to fund their side projects.
London-based business management consultancy firm Eden McCallum recently conducted a survey of 251 independent consultants and found that the downsides of being a sole trader, like loneliness and a lack of support, were not enough to put people off going out on their own.
Most respondents said consulting was a deliberate decision – with 59% saying they wanted more control over their time and schedule, and to work differently with clients. Just 13% were forced out by their employer, either losing their job or being offered an attractive redundancy package.
For 89% of respondents, consulting was attractive because it offered a chance to break free from the confines of bureaucracy. The variety of work, and the freedom to take time off and ability to incorporate non-work activities into their schedule, were other top draw cards.
The study found that consultants under the age of 40 were more driven, spending 80% of their time concentrating on billable work, compared to those aged 61 and over, who spent less than half their time clocking up billable hours. That said, the younger crowd was less likely to see consulting as something they wanted to do long term. Just 24% intended to stay on for more than 3 years with 39% saying they wanted to go on to start their own business.
Financial services contractor Amanda Cai fits this category, as she has been contracting since 2013, whilst also working on launching a new online community and job seeking site for contractors, iContract.
Survey respondents said the greatest downsides to contracting were being solely accountable with no IT, admin and marketing support. They also missed a sense of community and support from colleagues, as well as the routine and structure of their former full time roles. iContract aims to cut out some of the admin of finding and securing contracts by automatically matching candidates with roles and pulling all their employment information together on one portal.
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