IPSE launches self-employment awareness drive in schools

Thursday 6 August 2015

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has begun a series of outreach programmes designed to make school leavers and teenagers more aware of the benefits of being self-employed.

The organisation is concerned that only one per cent of pupils learn about self-employment at school, and only two per cent discuss the concept at university, despite the fact that 14 per cent of the UK’s worker are currently self-employed or freelancing in some way. This means that many teenagers and young adults may see being an employee as the only way to work.

In fact, self employment is now more popular than at any time since the start of the recession. It has been shown to be an excellent way to boost national productivity: a key measure of economic success, in which the UK is still lagging behind other European countries.

To combat this lack of awareness amongst young people, it has set up a new Research, Education and Training department, and engaged Lydia Wakefield as its education and training manager.

Thus far, IPSE has attended careers events at Farnborough Sixth Form College and Cooper’s and Coborn School, where it was enthusiastically received.

Ms Wakefield said: “IPSE is already reaching out to government with a view to increasing awareness of enterprise options for young people generally. Ideally, our new training initiatives will complement the careers support offered in schools, as well as those that are outside of the curriculum.”

She also hopes that the organisation will be able to expand its current offerings for schools, to ensure that young people have a balanced and accurate view of their work options. Regular research will be required to make sure that IPSE can offer the most up-to-date information about the ins and outs of contracting through its outreach programmes.

While freelancing is often most beneficial for professionals with a large amount of experience to draw upon, IPSE’s long-term aim is to lobby for the building blocks of entrepreneurship to be built into school and university curricula.

There is even the possibility of creating an official, certificated course to help train contractors in business skills that are necessary across all disciplines.

However, IPSE’s educational efforts are not restricted to the young. The organisation is also working on providing further training for existing contractors, as they tend to benefit from less ongoing career development than those in employed roles. It plans to offer training tailored to key contractor sectors such as IT and engineering.

Ms Wakefield said: “In recent years, the UK has seen the largest decline in freelancers engaging in training compared to the rest of Europe; they are much better at it than we are, and the UK has to up its game in this area.”
Whether it is part of keeping a contractor’s skills up-to-date, or helping young people make the best career decisions for them, education is a key tool for those who want to ensure the continued prosperity of contractors across the UK.

By Victoria McDonnell

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