Contractor body develops training proposal into ‘bold’ skills strategy

A contractor trade group has developed what it says is the best course for tax rules on the training of freelance professionals into an eight-strong programme of recommendations.

The sheer number of people now in self-employment (4.8million), combined with the range of sectors they serve is why one proposal should be joined by seven others, explained IPSE.

So while the group’s long-standing recommendation remains (that new skills training for sole traders is made tax-deductible), it is now part of a wider “bold” strategy to overhaul the professional development of people who work for themselves.

The seven other proposals, outlined by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) in a new report; are for the government to:

  • Fix the design faults in the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Scheme;
  • Introduce Adult Education Vouchers to incentivise lifelong learning among low-income groups;
  • Make the Apprenticeship Levy funding available for employment agencies to subsidise training for the self-employed people they represent;
  • Establish a self-employment ‘hub’ to improve signposting to trusted online training providers;
  • Ensure the self-employed benefit from the new Flexible Learning Fund;
  • Introduce enterprise modules in higher and further education courses which produce a higher proportion of self-employed graduates;
  • Reform the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) levy.

If all eight are adopted, the association said the government would successfully “equip the self-employed with the tools to adapt and thrive in an evolving economy.”

The subtext is that the rise of automation and AI are stimulating “a fundamental shift in the world of work,” the report says, with implications for both high-end contractors and the low-income self-employed.

So IPSE’s recommendations to government range from how to help more vulnerable people progress in their independent careers, to how to arm construction firms with the skilled contractors they need.

Making training less taxing for everyone who works for themselves is outlined too, alongside how schools can prepare the young for freelancing, on top of assisting the existing self-employed to fit training around their unpredictable schedules.

“In June, …[we were] delighted that the government consulted on how to level the playing field in terms of the taxation of self-funded training,” said the association’s Imogen Farhan.

“But with 4.8 million people now seeking the benefits of self-employment and the world of work undergoing significant shifts, more needs to be done to start enacting meaningful, positive change.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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