Commitment and leadership are required in equal measure if you are to be an apprentice employer. It takes the dedication of an entire organisation to make the apprenticeship programme work well, but of course, there is one role that is the most significant – and that’s the apprentice’s Supervisor.
The Supervisor is tasked with providing ongoing support and guidance to the apprentice throughout the three-year programme – not only that but they should challenge the apprentice and encourage them to go beyond what they might think is possible and to see things from a different perspective. The Supervisor must also ensure that if the apprentice is struggling that they get the support they need and in essence, they must put the right structures in place to ensure they succeed.
At The Insurance Institute we place a significant focus on acknowledging success and achievement – therefore to honour the hard work and dedication of both apprentices and employers, particularly Supervisors, each December we host the Apprenticeship Recognition Awards.
This year’s Supervisor of the Year (Life Insurance) winner was Caroline Treanor, Compliance Officer, Clear Financial. Caroline and her team have been incredibly supportive of their apprentices and have gone over and above what is required. Caroline has prided herself on always having an ‘open door’ policy when it comes to her apprentices and this commitment to them has been hugely influential in the apprentices' development.
We recently caught up with Caroline to learn more about her experience of the programme and how she felt about being awarded Life Supervisor of the Year.
Caroline, congratulations on your recent award for Supervisor of the Year – can you tell me what it meant to you and to Clear Financial to be recognised in this way?
At Clear Financial we were very proud to be recognised in this way. We are big supporters of the programme and the opportunities it can provide to both candidates and to our business. For me personally I was genuinely surprised to have been awarded Supervisor of the Year. I am a great advocate of personal development and I saw my role as being as supportive as possible to the apprentices to ensure they succeed at the programme.
For how long has Clear Financial been involved with the apprenticeship programme and why did the company decide to participate in the first place?
Clear Financial has been involved with the programme since 2018. The apprenticeship came to my attention, and I was drawn to it as it reminded me of my own journey. In 2005 I was involved in the Financial Advisor Traineeship with FAS (as it was then known). This was a 16-week course where candidates were introduced to the QFA 1 module. To now see opportunities such as this apprenticeship programme and the involvement of our industry bodies working together with IT Sligo is a huge and welcomed progression that offers real alternatives for all successful applicants. Both Clear Financial and I strongly endorse this initiative and we are delighted we got involved.
The apprentices will achieve a third-level qualification on completion of the programme – how important was this to Clear Financial?
At Clear Financial we strongly encourage and support employees’ personal and educational development within the company. As a business, we realise that we are only as good as the sum of our parts, and education and knowledge are key to the services we provide to our customers - therefore embedding The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship into our business makes complete sense.
Have you found that their training and education on the programme has been useful in terms of their day-to-day work?
Absolutely, this has proved invaluable for the company and indeed to the confidence gained by the candidates involved.
What are the three main advantages your apprentices have brought to your business?
- Knowledge in terms of technical understanding of products provided
- Greater self-confidence to participants
- Staff retention
Can you tell me what your role of Supervisor consisted of and why it is important?
From the outset, I made myself available to assist as best I could. I have a busy work schedule but understood and recognised the importance of assisting whenever required. I organised weekly meetings and instilled the message that working together and having an “open door” policy would support the progress of the programme and highlight areas where our candidates struggled. This quickly became part of my weekly schedule, and I was happy to do it in the knowledge that I could assist our candidates and ultimately the business would benefit.
Did you feel the Supervisor role benefited you in any way?
Without doubt - it brought my working relationship with our candidates to a very strong level whilst also helping me personally by inadvertently refreshing my industry knowledge and leadership skills.
Do you think the apprentices have managed to fill a skills gap in your organisation and have they brought new learning/insight to your business?
Yes, our apprentices excelled in their roles and although it is a three-year journey, the investment of time and the commitment is most worthwhile and beneficial to the business.