IPSE launches new partnerships to support self-employed

Friday 4 November 2016

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has announced its first partners in its University Partnerships scheme. 

Aiming to help educate young people about self-employment options, the initiative will see IPSE working with universities to deliver resources, workshops and more.

Nottingham Trent University School of Art and Design, and University of Middlesex, will be the organisation's first official University Partners, with more expected to be announced over the coming months. 

In a statement about the move, IPSE highlighted that just two per cent of existing independent professionals learned about self-employed modes of working during their time at university. IPSE's scheme aims to change that by helping educate students about their working options.

Indeed, the organisation has raised concerns over this lack of education in the past. In the wake of the Brexit vote, IPSE noted that independent workers have the potential to plug key skills gaps - but that government support currently did not pass muster.

Commenting on the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey, published July 19th, IPSE Policy Development Manager Stephen Rooney claimed the study highlighted the significant skills challenges facing UK businesses. 

He explained that the flexibility provided by the self-employed is a "key competitive advantage of the UK, with freelancers contributing a staggering £109 billion to the economy in 2015", but that it is one that the government does not sufficiently support.

Specifically, he pointed to the lack of support for learning and development, with contractors and freelancers having to take time out from earning an income to further their skills. Steps such as making training for new skills tax-deductible for such workers was among Mr Rooney's suggested measures.

However, he also noted it is important to address the need for core business skills earlier in contractor's career paths to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed in an independent work environment.

The recent University Partnerships announcement is one way in which IPSE is aiming to tackle the issues it perceives with growing and supporting the UK's pool of self-employed individuals.

Commenting on becoming a University Partner, employability coordinator at Nottingham Trent University School of Arts Linda Marchant said: "Within the creative industries, a portfolio career with multiple freelance jobs is a common one, and we want to provide support, advice and guidance to our students. We run a series of events to support all types of working, including freelancing and entrepreneurship."

By Victoria McDonnell

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