The taboo regarding self-employment as a liable career choice remains to this day, however universities are trying to change this. With increased funding into various university Enterprise Hubs and the likes of conferences like Start-Up Higher, universities are aiming to encourage self-employment as viable options for students. Our economy and world are heavily supported and reliant on businesses, and with the support from new businesses our global economy can thrive, big or small. This raises the question; How can universities support marketing students to consider self-employment? Especially “since those aged between 18-34 are more likely to start their own business compared to those aged 34-64”, GM Study 2022.

Since 2008 there has been a 66% increase in the number of 16–29-year-olds going freelance. However, only 2% of freelancers felt they learnt about self-employment during their time at University, ComRes 2016. Graduate schemes/employment are usually students main focus post graduation. Usually Self-employment is written off as they don’t know where to start or consider it to be a career later in life. While universities are beginning to support self-employment, many tend to focus on the development of entrepreneurial skillsets, rather than students exploring the route of starting their own business.

We have created our Marketing Mavericks Programme which aims to support students interested in either starting up their Freelancer careers, or simply looking to explore the options self-employment has to offer. Find out more here!

Self-employment can be a solution to the graduate scheme crisis!

Currently the number of graduates is greatly outweighed by available graduate schemes. Implementing support for those interested in self-employment creates an alternative pathway. This provides students an alternative to consider post-graduation and down the line. Additionally, future generations will have increased employment opportunities. Research has also shown those with disabilities, including special education needs were more likely to be self-employed compared to employed, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2017.

Marketing Students working

What are the benefits if universities support marketing students to consider self-employment?

  • Ability to explore options: Students are still young and making decisions for their career can be daunting. Offering support/programmes allows students to understand their options more clearly, and whether self-employment is really for them.
  • Real-life application to their studies: For some, their business idea is likely linked to the course they’re studying. Starting their own business alongside their studies allows them to apply their studies to their business, vice versa.
  • Time to build their business: Students could start-up tier business during first year, potentially graduating with a business running between 3-4 years, earning equivalent to graduate job salaries.
    Networking opportunities: Universities are a home to individual talent and knowledge, from lecturers to fellow students. During their time at university, students can create a professional network to further support their business down the line.
  • Time and flexibility: University provides a unique window of time where students have more flexibility and the time to multitask between university work and their entrepreneurial ventures, potentially using their business as their source of income instead of a part-time job.
  • Understand how to start-up: Self-employment may be something students consider later in life. However, they can use these skills from university to create their business later on. In addition, they may become aware of skills they need to develop in order to confidently start their own business down the line.
  • Opportunities for students with SEND/work differently: The recruitment/ employment process can be daunting for certain students. Self-employment enables them to be independent and successful within their own right.

Hear what Michaela, a Marketing Mavericks from Nottingham Trent University has to say:

Lets see how further support for self-employment can benefit universities:

  • Enhanced Reputation and branding: Universities actively supporting and promoting self-employment among their students usually gain a reputation as innovative and entrepreneurial institutions. This positive branding will attract new students, as well as researchers, new lectures along with heightened interest for collaborations with successful business owners in various industries.
  • Economic Impact national and locally: A thriving ecosystem of student-led business can have positive impact on the surrounding region/community. Post-graduation their businesses will continue to support the economy, increasing employment opportunities.
  • Research and knowledge transfer: Student start-ups can drive research and knowledge transfer between academia and industry. In some cases, faculty members/researchers may collaborate with students.
  • Increased Alumni Engagement: Self-employment can foster stronger connections between university and its alumni network. If students have the support to begin their businesses during university, they may feel more inclined to give back. This could be through financial donations, mentorship programmes, or collaborative partnerships, enriching universities resources and opportunities for current/future students.

Take a look at Nottingham Trent’s Marketing Mavericks Case Study!

Starting a business does carry risk, however with the guidance and support coming from universities along with the increased level of risk-taking ability at younger ages, self-employment should be encouraged and explored during a student’s time at university. Self-employment is also the perfect alternative pathway, providing students various ways to navigate through their career. Universities, this is your time to make the change for the future generation. Let’s create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow together!