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The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), at the invitation of the Fabian Society, joined a round table discussion with MPs at the House of Commons recently. The event, which was held in conjunction with the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) was chaired by Nick Brown MP with a panel comprising Professor Andrew Burke of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield; Erika Watson of Prowess 2.0 and Jon Cruddas MP.
The Think Tank was looking to formulate answers to a number of questions:
- Are traditional employment policy goals relevant to an employment market that is increasingly based on flexibility?
- How can the Labour Party formulate an employment policy which appeals to a new generation of flexible workers without alienating traditional workers in low paid or insecure jobs?
- How can the Labour Party reach out to those who have chosen to set up businesses or become self-employed specifically because they have other interests?
- What language should we use to talk about work in modern Britain? Has Labour been guilty of using the wrong language?
Samantha Hurley, Head of External Relations at APSCo attended the discussion, which centred around a Fabian Society/PCG Report entitled New Forms of Work as well as research undertaken by Professor Burke on the role of freelancers in the 21st UK economy.
Ms Hurley said: “There were some very interesting statistics around the impact of freelancers on revenue growth. Where freelancers (self-employed) were under 17.2% of the workforce there was little impact – however once it went beyond this figure the changes were significant making an impact on growth of up to 25%. There was also evidence that freelancers are actually creating jobs.”
“What was encouraging was that there did seem to be an understanding that there are different sectors of the freelance UK Labour Market ranging from the most vulnerable who need the protection of policy to those who are not vulnerable at all such as professional ‘white collar’ freelancers. Additionally, there was a view that self-employment has to be part of the Government’s future strategy but also that it needs to look at sharing the risk in terms of helping with training, insurances and financial safety nets. Differentiation in the recruitment industry is exactly what APSCo has been talking about in its dialogue with Government for a number of years and it is encouraging to see that in some quarters our message is beginning to get through,” she concluded.