Blue Eskimo

Navigating the 2024 Landscape: Contracting in Learning and Development and the Impact of IR35

Could utilising contractors be a valid alternative to delivering my critical L&D project, and what do we need to consider?

In the dynamic landscape of Learning and Development (L&D), finding the right talent is crucial to fostering growth and innovation. As a specialised recruiter in the United Kingdom, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities that the L&D industry presents.

Hiring the right skills for your team is one challenge but cultural fit, values fit, long term workforce planning requirements, immediate need for skills and the increasing project led nature of L&D support can mean that permanent team members may not be the only option.

Contracting has long been a backbone to the L&D sector, supplementing internal learning teams and also a core resource pool for providers of learning services providers.  Such skills may be technical or project led and can include for example

  • Learning Experience Design (LXD) and Instructional Design
  • Authoring Skills (Articulate Storyline, Captivate, Elucidate, Lectora (amongst others)
  • Technical Skills and innovation (XR, VR, AR and of course AI)
  • Project and Programme Management
  • Learning Delivery and Strategy
  • LMS and LXP implementation

Such skills can often be required for immediate or mid to long term requirements of 3 months plus or can even be a prelude to a permanent hire.

Understanding the dynamic market for contractors in the L&D market can be challenging, this Download may help to demystify the 2024 market challenges.

Using contractors for L&D projects  

1. Specialised Expertise:

Contractors can bring specialised expertise in Learning and Development. From instructional design to e-learning development through to implementation of platforms and delivery.

2. Agility for Your Projects:

Contractors are ready to scale up or down based on your project requirements, ensuring you get the right talent when you need it.

3. Compliance Assurance:

Stay ahead of regulatory changes with contractors well-versed in compliance issues, including the latest updates to IR35 regulations often a barrier to the use of flexible resources.

4. Innovation in Digital Learning:

Embrace the future of learning with contractors versed in digital transformation. Cutting edge solutions such as those involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) cutting-edge e-learning solutions, incorporating the latest technologies for an engaging and effective learning experience.

Finding the skills is one challenge , however engaging with individual contractors or personal service companies (PSCs) is another, there are some compliance challenges to consider.


IR35, also known as the off-payroll working rules, is a piece of UK legislation originally introduced in 2000. Its primary purpose is to address tax avoidance by contractors who supply their services to clients via an intermediary, such as a limited company, but who would be employees if the intermediary was not used. This practice is often referred to as 'disguised employment'.

IR35: A Concise Overview

Objective: IR35 aims to ensure that contractors who are effectively working as employees pay similar taxes and National Insurance contributions as regular employees.

Scope: It applies to all contractors who do not meet HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) definition of self-employment - crucial for determining employment status for tax purposes.

Impact on Contractors: If a contract is deemed to fall inside IR35, the contractor has to pay income tax and National Insurance Contributions as if they were an employee.

Responsibility Shift (Post-April 2020): In the private sector, the responsibility for determining IR35 status shifted from contractors to the larger companies they work for.

The essence of IR35 is to combat tax avoidance and ensure that contractors working in a similar way to employees, and their employers, pay the appropriate level of tax and National Insurance.

How do we help you navigate the challenge?

Expert Guidance: Our team stays abreast of the latest developments in IR35 legislation. We offer tailored advice to ensure that both our clients and our contractors are fully informed and compliant with the current laws.

Comprehensive Assessments: We conduct thorough IR35 status assessments for every contract role. Our method involves a detailed analysis of working practices and contract terms, ensuring accurate determinations are made.

Why Invest in L&D Contractors?

Investing in the use of flexible contract resource for your L&D projects can be cost-effective, helping to optimise your budget and reduce long term cost commitments by hiring for specific projects.

If you are ready to consider contractors for your L&D initiatives, we are here to support you, get in contact for a chat HERE or watch our video overview HERE