2016 was a landmark year for the insurance industry and the education sector – Ireland’s first honours degree-level apprenticeship launched and 67 apprentices started their careers in insurance.
As of February 2017, the apprentices have been working and studying for five months through a combination of on-the-job experience and online academic study. Employers nationwide have seen the benefits of employing apprentices, citing everything from filling skills gaps to enhancing their learning culture as some of the major impacts these new workers have made so far.
In particular, the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship brings significant advantages for businesses struggling due to skills shortages and who are under pressure to get staff through minimum competency qualifications. For these organisations, the programme is a cost-effective way of building their talent pool and developing missing skills and competencies.
The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship was developed with input from a range of industry organisations and bodies, which means it fits the needs of both large and small businesses. The companies involved range from small brokers to multinational insurance companies, with feedback from all angles being widely positive.
Here are just some of the reasons participating employers are choosing apprentices as part of their recruitment and succession-planning strategy.
Fill skills gaps
The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship was developed in response to increasing skills shortages within the insurance industry. Direct involvement from insurers, loss adjusters, brokers and professional bodies means that learning outcomes and course materials directly address employer skills needs and are relevant to the sector.
Apprentices working in insurance are developing the competencies organisations are looking for to keep pace with the latest technology and working practices. They are also learning the personal and business skills that employers crave, such as teamwork, communication, negotiation and creativity.
By employing apprentices, organisations can craft the perfect employee with the skills and knowledge that are directly relevant to the business – which also helps in succession planning and creating strong leaders for the future.
Build loyalty and reduce employee turnover
UK organisations have found that employing apprentices builds loyalty among staff and reduces employee turnover. Here, since the apprentices will work in an organisation for three years, they will learn the company’s culture and structure and will have a fundamental understanding of the business once they complete the programme.
The apprentice will also be mentored by someone within the organisation, which will help build their loyalty to the organisation as they develop their careers.
Create future leaders
The 2016 PwC CEO Survey found that 53% of insurance CEOs globally will focus on the pipeline of leaders for the future as a key priority in their drive for talent. However, staff turnover rate within many insurance organisations is at an all-time high, making this priority even more difficult to achieve.
Apprenticeships help to create this pipeline of leaders who have committed to the industry from a young age. Instead of ‘falling into insurance’ as so many describe their start in the profession, apprentices will choose to become part of the sector and will place value on their own professional development.
More cost-effective training and development
Off-the-job training – i.e. the degree and insurance qualifications portion – are government supported, which significantly reduces training and development costs for organisations. Employers need to cover on-the-job costs, including the apprentice’s salary, which means this programme is accessible to any business, big or small.
Want to know more? Have a look at our snapshot of the 2016 programme.