Last year saw the third instalment of the Global Research Workshops, organised by IPSE. It was a great success involving key academics working in the area of self-employment and freelancing, and many of the articles presented went on to be published in The Handbook of Research on Freelancing and Self-Employment. But the working landscape is still rapidly changing, and in light of this IPSE plans to continue to hold these events in conjunction with the CRSE.

It is well known that the self-employment sector has developed rapidly over recent years, in size and influence and not just in the UK but across the world too. The setting for last year’s seminar saw the continent as the place to be for those wanting to start their own business - a place where working for yourself was welcomed, appreciated and admired.

This change in attitude, and a growing interest from professors, academics and indeed politicians and policy makers, is what influenced the creation of the Global Workshop on Freelancing and Independent Professional research back in 2013. 

Professor Andrew Burke of Cranfield School of Management opened proceedings last year, arguing that independent professionals need defining in a more precise way. As the day progressed, many issues under the self-employed umbrella were covered from: the importance of freelancers, to their impact on the economy and the vital role this group plays in business, to the challenges they face and the recognition they receive in policy making. The day was a learning curve for everyone.

This was the very point of the exercise and the reason IPSE facilitates these seminars, and will continue to do so. As an organisation, IPSE can draw from research gathered from around the world to challenge decision makers in Parliament and Whitehall, and ensure self-employment in the UK can truly flourish. 

Politicians have shown interest in the needs of this growing part of the workforce, and these seminars have done much to raise the profile of freelancing and self-employment. Currently ongoing is the Self-Employment Review launched by the Government in the UK and long called for by IPSE. Professors and academics are also watching closely, it seems everybody wants to learn more about the diverse and flexible nature of the self-employed. 

The 2015 seminar will do the same, however the context has changed somewhat negatively. Government regulation, in the UK at least, could put many of the self-employed at risk. Lines between freelancers and full-time employees are becoming blurred. Research recently published shows that nine out of ten freelancers in the UK love the way they work, however many factors could affect this in the coming months and years. 

It is essential that IPSE continues to learn more about our evolving sector. Through a better understanding of the trends in self-employment, there will be a greater opportunity to create a freer, fairer environment for those who work for themselves.

Freelancing and self-employment experts this year will spend the day presenting their ideas, sharing research and sparking debate.  From the University of Brighton (UK) to The Association for Self-Employment and Freelancers (Poland), IPAG Business School (France), Erasmus University (Netherlands), and as far away as Monash University, Australia and Santa Clara University, USA, the seminar will be full of specialists in this area.  

In our line of work, knowledge is most certainly power and the more often we bring together and provide a platform for these discussions to take place, the better.  

The fourth Global Workshop on Freelancing and Independent Professional Research will take place at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire in London on 26 and 27 November 2015.