Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, has urged freelance workers to tackle low-wage growth and zero-hours contracts by joining a trade union.
According to O'Grady, trade unions are currently being targeted by the government via the introduction of legislation to reduce industrial action. However, the TUC head has stated that contract and temporary workers should "band together" to encourage wage growth and secure contracts.
Recent reports from TUC have revealed that the average worker is still £40 per week worse off than before the financial crisis, despite recent increases in wages.
According to O'Grady, it will take until 2018 for the UK's average earning to return to the real values of 2008, which he claims translates to ten years of "backwards pay" while utility bills, transport and housing costs continue to rise.
Ms O'Grady has argued that an increase in trade unions will help freelance and temporary workers to strengthen their fight and help boost minimum wages across every industry.
“To every worker – freelance, contract, temporary or permanent – I say: get a group of your colleagues together and join a union," she said. "Feel that support, that confidence and that pride that only comes when you stand with your workmates and use your collective sway to make working life better."
The government is urging tech companies to target the education and healthcare sectors in a bid to encourage the industry's growth outside London.
According to digital economy minister, Ed Vaizey, the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and contractors should focus on the sectors that are mainly state backed in order to ensure companies make the most of new technology outside of London.
"In education, universities and colleges are already using massive online courses, so lectures and courses can reach a much wider audience, costing less. Could schools benefit from similar innovations?” he said.
Commenting on recent data, Mr Vaizey stated that more than 70 per cent of digital businesses in the UK are currently based outside London and applauded the establishment of large tech brands beyond the capital.
However, he argued that he wanted to see the digital economy "expand its footprint", increasing the number of businesses and IT contractors across the UK to ensure the sector is successful country wide.
Mr Vaizey has also suggested that the rollout of super fast broadband could be the key to expanding the digital sector to more remote areas, and suggested that the government is now planning to give every home and business in the country the legal right to request fast broadband in a bid to tackle this problem.
Over three quarters of UK companies make "extensive" use of IT contractors, which is above the international average, according to a new study from IT recruiter Experis.
According to the research, based on a survey of executives responsible for hiring IT employees across ten countries, the UK currently has more contractors proportionally than some of the world's arguably most advanced and developed markets, including the US.
The results revealed that only 66 per cent of companies in the US make extensive use of IT contractors, compared to 65 per cent in Japan and 40 per cent in Germany. In contrast, 76 per cent of UK businesses dip into IT talent pools on a regular basis.
Despite this, many respondents appeared to be aware of the benefits of hiring IT contractors, with 19 per cent of businesses in the US and 17 per cent of the businesses in Australia expressing plans to hire more IT contractors in core functions in the near future.
According to Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis Europe, an increasing number of UK companies are viewing contractors as a "go-to workforce planning solution".
He continued: "They are recognising that the use of contractors can bring greater cost savings in the long term and flexible work flow options, which will be vital in 2016 and beyond.”
A new think tank devoted to researching freelance working in the UK has been created to improve understanding of self-employment and its contribution to the economy.
The Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE) is set to deliver multidisciplinary research into the freelance sector using input from academics from around the world, providing the government and other UK organisations with a basis for creating international comparisons and forging a "library of knowledge" on the topic of self-employment.
According to the Association for Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), which supports the new think tank, CRSE will also inform debates over legislative issues that will affect self-employed workers around the UK.
Commenting on the establishment of the new group, IPSE Chairman James Collins has stated that the constant evolution of the self-employment sector has previously made it hard for smaller organisations to find and understand fragmented research related to freelancing.
“[We are] striving to deepen our understanding of the people we represent,” said Mr Collins. "The CRSE will also play a key role in strengthening our ability to make evidence-based policy proposals to government.”
Britain's top cyber security experts are earning more than £10,000 a day for providing major companies with protection against sophisticated hackers, according to a study.
A survey conducted by recruiter Manpower revealed that the hourly rates charged by IT security experts were likely to continue rising in 2016, with less experienced contractors already charging more than £3,000 a day to protect vulnerable IT systems and sensitive information.
The rise in IT contractor daily pay rates follows a number of recent high-profile attacks on major firms, including Sony, TalkTalk and JD Wetherspoon, during which personal and financial information of the companies and their customers was stolen.
According to Mark Cahill, UK managing director of Manpower, cyber attacks are taking place every day with a total annual cost to the global economy of up to $575 billion (£381 billion).
He continued: "Companies are having to invest heavily to protect themselves and they now believe that cyber breaches are inevitable, with their focus moving to responding to attacks rather than just prevention."
Mr Cahill argued that the limited pool of top security talent, along with increasing rise of significant threats, are just two of the factors contributing to the continually rising five-figure salaries commanded by the country's most experienced cyber security experts.
Specialist IT recruitment agencies are reporting an increase in demand for contract jobs from companies struggling to attract and retain staff with the skills they need.
Researchers at Computer Weekly quizzed recruiters about current hiring patterns in the sector, and found 84 per cent had experienced a surge in demand for contract and temporary staff.
As a result, the magazine is pointing to the creation of a new generation of ‘super contractors’, who are able to command high fees for their work because an industry skills shortage means they are in high demand.
Agencies identified a number of reasons for the increased need for contractors. Almost nine in 10 said they were facing challenges matching the skills of applicants to the jobs available. They are also concerned that Government moves to limit immigration from outside of the European Union will impact on the availability of suitably skilled staff. More than eight out of 10 (85 per cent) told the researchers this will have an effect going forward.
Computer Weekly said that these trends are encouraging more people with the most in-demand skills to switch to contracting.
“As the dichotomy between skills supply and demand widens, more IT professionals are taking on the role of ‘contractor’, forgoing job security in order to charge a premium for their services,” it concluded.
Demand is continuing to grow for IT contractors, with jobs in the sector showing one of the biggest growths of any industry.
This is according to analysis of last month’s job postings by recruitment website Indeed. The company found that IT and retail showed the strongest growth in October, with job postings in each industry increasing by five per cent compared to September.
More than 120,000 IT posts were advertised on the site last month. The most in demand roles among businesses in the IT category were for graphic designers, which Indeed said was also the most searched for job title in the sector.
Indeed said the picture for employment improved in October, following the slowdown it has reported in the last few months.
The overall statistics showed a seasonal trend, with construction and transport job listings down, and short term retail postings increasing ahead of the busy festive period.
The group’s economic research analyst Mariano Mamertino said: “Although timid, the increase in job postings registered on Indeed in October is encouraging, especially when it comes after the negative month-on-month growth we witnessed in August and September.”
However, Indeed warned that the labour market outlook for the coming months was “somewhat weaker”.
Undergraduate startups at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) Centre for Entrepreneurship have been given a boost of £500,000 from the Bathgate Start-up Fund.
The Bathgate Start-up Fund is named after the Bathgate Group of companies, which has a vast business portfolio including silica sand, access flooring and transport.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the funding will be available over five years to students on regular courses, those on degree sandwich years, and those who wish to access 'try it out' schemes, where they can use the funds to test and explore their ideas.
The fund will be available to entrepreneurs and those looking for self-employment opportunities of many different varieties, including freelance opportunities, contracts, partnerships, social enterprises and community interest companies.
Commenting on the fund, Emma Robinson, LJMU head of student entrepreneurship, stated that it would offer a significant number of opportunities to those involved with the Centre for Entrepreneurship, and possibly increase the number of startups emerging from the university.
She continued: "With mentoring to support business and social enterprise start-up where appropriate, the number of student start-ups and students developing careers as freelancers will increase, with additional opportunities for all students to develop an 'entrepreneurial mindset' no matter what their discipline."
Freelancers are happier with their careers than their employed counterparts, according to new research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE).
A study conducted by the self-employment body found that 86 per cent of 696 respondents felt very satisfied with the way they work, while only two per cent wanted to work as an employee.
The findings mirrored another recent report from Investors in People, which revealed that 60 per cent of employees are currently unhappy in their jobs.
Further data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has also revealed that 98 per cent of UK employers are expecting to rely on contractors within the coming months, highlighting the increasing value of self-employed workers to UK businesses.
According to Chris Bryce, chief executive of IPSE, the results confirm self-employed workers' choice to sidestep traditional employment and embrace a freelance lifestyle.
Mr Bryce said: "Our results dispel the myth that freelancers choose to work this way because they have no other choice or are forced into it."
He continued: "The vast majority of the UK’s 1.9 million independent professionals love what they do, and wouldn’t dream of becoming an employee in someone else’s business."