Should I Work Freelance?

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Should I Work Freelance?

Julie Fleming

The Journey To Becoming A Freelance Worker

As the construction industry in Scotland continues to improve and demand for staff increases the security of new jobs, projects and further employment naturally improves too.

Contract Scotland has on average 250 freelance white collar staff working week to week. Throughout the summer months the number of individuals working increases by around 10%.

The average freelance contract is increasing in most disciplines, however even where there are shorter contract lengths, there is consistent work on offer.

During 2013 and 2014 we placed a high number of freelance individuals into permanent jobs. This changed in 2015 as the prospect of working freelance improves once again on the basis of increasing pay rates, locations of projects, longer duration of contracts and increase in security of contracts.

This year Contract Scotland has worked with around 2 individuals per month who have made the decision to leave their permanent job in order to work on a freelance basis. 

The main considerations for this include:

  • Consistency of freelance employment
  • Increasing freelance pay rates
  • Competitive pay compared to permanent salaries
  • Ability to choose location of work
  • Exposure to a variety of companies
  • You are paid for every hour worked
  • Variety of projects
  • Ability to work on a variety of project types

 

We followed up with Mark, a Site Engineer from Glasgow, who recently made the decision to leave his permanent job to work on a freelance basis. Mark originally contacted us to discuss the market and the opportunities available on this basis. We followed up with him again last month to see how he was getting on and to provide you with an overview of his journey from permanent to temporary employment. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your career to date?

“I started an apprenticeship with George Leslie and during this time attended a day release programme for 4 years and obtained an HNC in Civil Engineering. I then did a further 4 year day release programme to obtain my BSc (Hons) Environmental Civil Engineering. I gained invaluable experience with George Leslie within the Scottish Water construction projects.

Having spent this time with George Leslie I got the opportunity to join Bam Nuttall to increase my exposure and experience within the civil engineering sector. I worked on a variety of projects throughout Scotland.

What was it that first led you to consider working on a freelance basis?

“When it came to finishing a project, I was told at fairly short notice about the next new project. Towards the end of my time with Bam Nuttall, I’d spent a few years working away from home and it occurred to me that working with a company as an employee, I would always have to go where the work was.

On my final site with Bam Nuttall, I worked alongside another freelance Site Engineer. He explained to me about the mechanics of working freelance and this spurred my interest.

I felt working freelance would really give me the opportunity to get to work on bigger projects and working as an employee, if your company doesn’t win the projects, you don’t get the opportunity to go between them. I felt I would get more variety working freelance.

The pay rates also interested me. When I discovered what a freelance Site Engineer was earning, it was better than my salary though acknowledge that benefits are lost"

How did you follow up that initial interest? What research did you do?

“I got quite a bit of information from a freelance Site Engineer who was employed via Contract Scotland, and he recommended I call Paul for some information on the market as a whole and to get a bigger picture of freelance employment, opportunities and how it all worked - warts and all!

I also spoke with an accountant to discuss tax issues etc so I would have a basic understanding before calling you.”

What concerns did you have about giving up a permanent job/working freelance and what did you do to address these?

“My main concern was the continuity of work, especially as I was moving house at the time. My Consultant, Paul, took the time to understand my reasons for considering leaving a permanent job with a company that has a good reputation and good work opportunities. He wasn’t pushy and provided me with market information both from a permanent and temporary perspective.

Paul also invited me into your office to discuss my concerns and explained both the benefits and negatives of working this way. He provided an honest appraisal of jobs and given you had a good understanding of what I was looking for; I was only presented with suitable opportunities.”

How long did the process take?

“I started considering working on a freelance basis in January 2015 and after careful consideration (based on the advice I had received from Paul) I handed in my notice in to my employer. When I became available you were able to fix me up in a temporary contract straight away – this was in April 2015. I have since started another contract and both positions have surpassed my expectations.

The good thing is throughout this whole process, I didn’t feel pressure from you guys, you didn’t push things, the ball was always in my court and it was me making the decisions. You were there to guide me where required and understood what I was looking for.” 

Now that you’ve made the change, is it what you expected and do you have any regrets?

“So far, I have no regrets and it’s better than I expected. I am working with a great contractor on a great project. I am within travelling distance to my home, paid well, on time every week and for every hour I work. As you know, the job I’m on currently is long term and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the contractor and Contract Scotland.”

A big thank you to Mark for taking the time to talk to us.

If you’d like to know anything else about working freelance we would be delighted to address any concerns and discuss the suitability for you at a time to suit.

Julie Fleming - Temporary Recruitment Manager

01786 446651 - Julie.fleming@contractscotland.co.uk

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