Monday 23rd November was National Freelancers Day in the UK, and PCG – the trade association for freelancers – have even created a dedicated website www.nationalfreelancersday.org.uk. In a nutshell, the aims of the day were to:
- highlight the value of freelancers to UK businesses
- celebrate the value of freelancing as a valid career choice, highlighting the community and support network
- lobby the Government to improve clarity and fairness in the tax system for freelancers
Although PCG emphasise the work of freelancers in the business sector (for example, IT, management and marketing consultants) their definition extends to ‘basically, anyone who is working independently in a knowledge–based role’. They also provide a useful definition; freelancers can be said to:
- Be neither employers nor employees
- Be skilled professional workers
- Supply services to a range or succession of clients
- Have commercial (“self-employed”) relationships with their clients
- Work for a fee
There is clearly a cross-over here with independent private tutors, and at least the 2nd and 3rd aims of National Freelancers Day will be of relevance to tutors.
One of the most exciting aspects of National Freelance Day is its free webcast which includes interviews with recognized experts discussing the increasingly important role freelancers will play in the economy. In particular, the respected futurologist Dr James Bellini, discusses how by 2020 the ‘working geography’ of Britain will be totally different from what it is today. Here are some excerpts from what he had to say:
From Pyramid to Pancake
“People will increasingly work from wherever they wish to because of connective technologies … Companies will be much smaller and will be working much on a networked basis – what we call the ‘pancake’ instead of the old ‘pyramid’”
The Importance of the Individual
“The best way to describe the digital future is of a gigantic worldwide conversation in which size doesn’t matter anymore … an individual will be as important as a big company in ten and twenty years ahead because their importance will be the value they can bring to a particular task. So, the future is not about size, it’s not about scale – it’s size-neutral.”
The Need for Personal Branding
“Now and in the future we will increasingly have to rely on our own individual talents and our talents as they fit into task teams or other teams … so the biggest issue that a lot of freelancers will face is their own personal branding. You know, who are they? What do they do? What do they bring to the party? We know, if we pick up a bottle of Coca-Cola what it’s going to taste like. We know if we buy from Microsoft that it’s going to do this job or that job – that’s what a brand does for you. With individuals, though – and they are the future – we have to develop the notion of personal branding, and that is a kind of exercise we all need to go through. I think a lot of the time, people who work for themselves don’t really see themselves as a brand. In the future, they will have to.”
You can watch the full interview here.
While such issues may seem a long way from the private tutoring you may do on a day-to-day basis, it is important to realize that change is definitely afoot. For one thing, as technology continues to facilitate ever-more sophisticated contact between individuals, it will inevitably play an increasing role in tutoring. The degree to which the tuition industry exploits the use of technology is both an exciting and challenging issue, particularly since personal, face-to-face contact is seen by many to be the lynchpin of the tutoring medium.