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What the UK's Industrial Strategy means for contractorsWhat the UK's Industrial Strategy means for contractors

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Monday 18th Dec, 2017

A sector-by-sector guide to the opportunities that the UK government's new Industrial Strategy will create for contractors.

Last month, the UK government announced its new Industrial Strategy, publishing a white paper that sets out its vision for the country's future in the post-Brexit era.

It includes plans to significantly upskill the nation's workforce, as well as millions of pounds of investment for different sectors, which will help to create new jobs and prepare Britain for its future outside of the EU.

The strategy white paper focuses on five key areas in which the government believes the country can improve over the next few years, and each focus looks set to lead to new opportunities for skilled limited company contractors and freelancers.

With upskilling the workforce a particular priority for the Industrial Strategy, contractors need to make sure they are nurturing and developing their own skillsets, as their flexibility and wide-ranging experience could see them ideally placed to act as professional mentors to those entering the workforce thanks to the opportunities created by the government.

But this isn't the only prospect for contractors; we take a look at the jobs that these workers are likely to be required for as the government's Industrial Strategy is delivered below.

Driverless cars: A job for engineering contractors

As part of the strategy, the government has pledged to invest £38 million into fast-tracking the development of driverless cars, with the intention of having them on the roads without a safety expert present by as soon as 2021.

Although testing of self-driving cars has started to be carried out, there are still widespread concerns about their safety, so it will be a huge undertaking for the UK to ensure they can be ready for regular road use in just over three years' time.

This therefore suggests that there will be plenty of opportunities for limited company contractors and freelancers with experience of working on engineering and manufacturing projects to help make driverless cars a reality on Britain's roads.

Preparing for a post-Brexit future: A task for financial services contractors

The overarching aim of the Industrial Strategy is to make sure that the UK is in a stable and prosperous position to navigate its way through the post-Brexit era as comfortably as possible.

As a result, companies will need to ensure that their financial affairs are in order, for which the expertise of financial and accounting contractors will be required. Although this may only be on a short-term basis, if contractors prove that they can add significant value to the clients that utilise their services, it could lead to future contract opportunities for them further down the line too.

Investment in life sciences: New opportunities for pharmaceutical contractors

Another sector that the government is planning to invest in heavily is the life sciences industry. A total of £1 billion has already been pledged to the sector from parliament, but this is now being upped by an additional £725 million.

Significant investment is also coming to the UK from the US, as pharmaceutical firm Merck (known as MSD in Europe) is opening a new research centre in London that will create 950 jobs, including opportunities for contractors.

With the government ploughing money into the sector as well, this is an exciting time for the nation's pharmaceutical industry and suggests that plenty of contract opportunities for contractors could be around the corner.

Indeed, UK Business Secretary Greg Clark commented: "People don't make investments of this scale that are for the long term if they don't have the confidence that we are building in this country a very attractive base.

"More decisions about our economic future will be in our own hands and it is vital that we take them."

Digital upskilling: A task for experienced IT contractors

Upgrading the UK workforce's digital skills is also a major priority for the government over the next few years. It has pledged to invest £100 million in training teachers in computer science so that members of the next generation are equipped with the skills that they need for an increasingly digital future.

However, limited company contractors who have already been working in digital roles - and subsequently have the experience and knowledge of what is expected of workers - may find that there are opportunities for them to pass this on in a mentoring capacity.

People who have already left school won't necessarily be exposed to this teaching, but their digital skills will still need updating as technology evolves, so the knowledge of contractors could prove invaluable here.

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