According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on self-employment, 4.5 million people have made the break from traditional PAYE contracts and are now working as contractors.

The self-employed sector makes up a significant part of the UK’s 31 million workforce, and according to specialist contractor accountancy firm Nixon Williams, the IT sector is a major part of the driving force behind the contractor revolution.

Half of the 1,000 people questioned in Nixon Williams’ Contractor Survey 2015 work in IT, with roles including programmer, developer, security consultant, project manager, business analyst, software test analyst, network designer and content designer. The range of industries also covers a wide spectrum from finance to business management, and from law to engineering.

According to the Bank of England’s quarterly bulletin, self-employment in the UK accounts for around a third of the growth in employment since 2010, with growth unaffected by periods of “subdued growth” and “stronger growth”.

Commenting on the latest ONS figures, Nixon Williams CEO Simon Curry, said:

Work 2 (PD)The latest figures demonstrate the importance of the self-employment sector to the UK economy. Using contractors allows businesses to maximise opportunities, become more innovative and expand their skillset. For contractors, the rewards are higher rates of pay, more flexibility and a better work-life balance. It’s a situation where potentially everyone wins.

The latest ONS figures reveal construction is the still the largest sector for contractors, however, the statistics suggest 83,000 contractors work directly in the IT sector, with many tens of thousands more operating in other areas in an IT role. Other sectors supporting significant contractor populations include retail, legal and accounting services, management, education, and health.

Simon Curry added: “Advances in cloud computing, contactless payment systems and cyber security mean growth for the UK’s technology sector is set to continue, and that means opportunities for self-employed IT professionals.”

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