Security v flexibility – the freelancer's conundrum

2 Aug 2016 (provided by Local Transport Today), Category: Transportation Planning

Security v flexibility – the freelancer's conundrum

Life as a freelance transport contractor can be highly satisfying but it can also be challenging, admits transport planning officer Les Henry, who admits his own experiences have been mixed.

From 2005 to 2012 he worked as a freelance engineer in development control, providing highways comments for planning applications made by various developers. In 2012 he moved to an established post as principal transport development planning officer for Surrey County Council. 

“The flexibility is a big plus in freelancing,” says Henry. “My engineering background gave me a solid foundation, and enabled me to adapt to different conditions and requirements. The recruitment agencies can provide help and advice, and as conditions recovered after the recession, freelancers were needed to fill skills gaps. 

“You need to be confident in your abilities as a freelance, while also being willing to learn and be able to react quickly to what the client wants.” 

Henry became aware of the disadvantages of freelancing that eventually led him to move to an established post as principal transport planning officer at Surrey County Council. 

“There is no guarantee of work, and no pay for holidays or if you are ill. You need to keep fit and well. Working on a series of short-term contracts can also mean it is difficult to get recognition for the work you do. I am still working in the same area of work as when I was a freelance, but have a more regular salary, with pension contributions and wider responsibilities. It means I am in a better position to advance my career.”

Les Henry: Working on a series of short-term contracts can mean it is difficult to get recognition for the work you do.

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