UK small businesses and entrepreneurs on the rise, says LinkedIn

Study finds

The number of Britain’s entrepreneurs, sole traders and SMEs is on the rise, according to the latest research released today by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network. This growth in the number of small businesses in the UK comes as Britain’s biggest companies are reducing the size of their workforces, LinkedIn also found.

The research, based on a pool of LinkedIn’s 23 million UK members between April 2016 and April 2017, reveals that the UK’s biggest businesses are seeing the largest reductions in the size of their workforces, with very large businesses (10,001+ employees) reducing the number of professionals they employ by 1.9 per cent.

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is the only sector in the UK to see very large firms bolster hiring, which was up by 1.6 per cent YoY. Every other industry saw numbers of professionals employed fall in very large firms, most notably retail (- 5.6 per cent YoY), and financial services & insurance (- 2.9 per cent YoY).

Across all companies there was a decline in support (-4.2 per cent) and administration (-3.9 per cent) roles - a trend that continues from the previous year, and suggests business are reducing non-core functions as they look to adapt to the uncertainties of Brexit.  

LinkedIn also found that British workers continue to strike out on their own as entrepreneurs, sole traders, and in small companies, as they had in the prior year. Between April 2016 and April 2017, there was an increase in the number of professionals in entrepreneurship (+6.4 per cent) and consulting (+5.8 per cent) roles in the UK. During the same period there was a rise in the number of sole traders (+13.5 per cent) and companies with 1-10 employees (+4.1 per cent). The sectors experiencing the biggest increases in single person companies are architecture and engineering (+17.9 per cent YoY) and professional services (+16.9 per cent YoY).

Josh Graff, UK Country Manager and VP EMEA at LinkedIn, said, “The UK is experiencing record employment levels, despite our research showing that large British businesses are reducing the number of people they employ. This is, in part, due to the healthy number of emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses in the UK, and the employment opportunities they create.’’

Graff continued, ‘‘Our findings should give confidence to professionals who are thinking about taking the leap and striking out on their own. Our research should also be of interest to the UK government, who will need to put the health of SMEs and sole traders at the top of their agenda as they prepare their strategy for Britain’s economy after Brexit.’’

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