Why most self-employed people avoid training


As exciting and rewarding as self-employment is, it comes with its sacrifices and challenges. The life of a freelancer can be so demanding that effective prioritising is necessary in order to succeed or make progress. Unfortunately, training tends to be left on the back burner.

We understand the frustrations of the self-employed when it comes to training or continued professional development. To put things into perspective, here are a few reasons we’ve discovered from our research as to why self-employed professionals are less likely to engage in training compared to employees.


A significant factor to the low uptake of training among self-employed professionals is financial limitation. Self-employed professionals don’t have the financial or job security that most employees have and so every penny counts.

For most, they don’t know where their next client or business will come from. In addition, they already have a lot of expenses and taxes which they need to take into account. And the way they tend to respond to such financial pressures is to save as much as possible in every area they can – even if it means neglecting their own professional development.

However, there are several free and low-cost training courses out there, which can be taken advantage of. And the more expensive ones these days typically have a payment structure that allows you pay in monthly instalments, making training more financially viable.

Time constraints

Another main challenge or limitation around training is usually the time commitment required to take part in the course. Self-employed professionals and freelancers typically have unpredictable and unstable schedules. This can mean they often cannot afford to fit in the time for training.

Although they are more in control of their time than employees, they tend to work longer hours to sustain the business. In saying that, time constraints don’t have to be an excuse for not taking training anymore.

Many training courses are now adapting to the changing workforce and are becoming more flexible. A lot of them are self-paced which means you can participate in the training at your convenience.

Project restraints

Many freelancers work on a project by project basis which means they are fully focused on every project at hand in order to meet the client’s requirements. So, unless the training course can work around their project, it probably would not appeal to a freelancer.

But as previously mentioned, there are many courses available that could work around your commitments especially with distance learning becoming more prevalent.

Value of training

Sometimes, finances, and time or project restraints are not the issue for some independent professionals – the mental block is that they can’t see the value in taking the training being offered.

This is particularly true for experienced, well-paid and highly-skilled contractors who consider themselves experts in their field. For these professionals, unless they are retraining in another skill, training to them might not be a priority. Although, this attitude might actually be counter-productive in a world that is constantly changing, with the need to stay up to date with the market.

You can’t afford to be rigid if you want to stay ahead in today’s world; one must be ready to learn new skills and adapt to the changing market.

IPSE is aware of all these challenges and we are currently consulting with the Government on ways to supporting the development of the self-employed workforce. One of the solutions being considered is to introduce a tax-relief for the self-employed for training on new skills. We also have a solution through IPSE Academy to make it easier for self-employed people to take training without neglecting their business.

IPSE Academy provides access to flexible courses that work around your schedule and business priorities. These courses are delivered by top training providers ranging from continuous professional development courses to professional qualifications. They are also discounted and reduced from their retail price so that our members can afford to take the training to enhance their development. More details about IPSE Academy’s offering can be found here.


Meet the author

Olaitan Ajimobi

Education and Training Officer