‘Steady-hand’ Phil delivers a mixed message to UK’s next generation of skilled workers


The concept is sound and already people know what they are, what they are for, and can understand that they are about giving our young people the delivery mechanism by which they can acquire the skills they and we will need to make the country industrially-competitive in the post-Brexit era.

And best of all, the policy is a serious one that has serious funding behind it, with an initial £500 million per year.

By following the German lead of taking skills training seriously, the T-level has the potential to move the UK from the nation state equivalent of a buying football club, like Chelsea, to one that nurtures its own talent like, and I hate to say this as an Arsenal fan, Tottenham.

There is, however, an odd tension to the Chancellor’s Budget speech and that looks a bit like he’s giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

What am I on about? Well, I think the way people work nowadays has changed beyond recognition from even the 70s, 80s and 90s.

It’s been a steady process, but we are rapidly becoming a nation of self-reliant, self-employed people.

This is a process that, while already well-underway by the late noughties, was accelerated during the recent recession, as hundreds of thousands dodged the dole by setting up their own small businesses.

The innovation of T-levels and the associated increase in the national skills base, which I’ve been raving about all week, will only add more fuel to this growing army of high earning self-employed.

So, my slight problem with the Spring Budget is that rather than creating a further incentive to encourage people into businesses, increasing the Class 4 National Insurance contributions from 9-11% might have a cooling effect, and turn some people off from the idea.

That said, maybe all Mr Hammond has done is started to re-balance the tax system to accept that being self-employed is a legitimate way to work and pay tax, and that this is a signal that the Government is accepting that being self-employed is a legitimate method of legal work?

And maybe when Matthew Taylor reports the findings of his review of modern work practices there will be the will in government to pass laws that better reflect the 21st century industrial landscape?


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