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Gabriel Swift

Addressing the insurance knowledge and skills gaps coming out of the Coronavirus pandemic, these are the seven key best practices for insurers looking to invest in apprenticeships.

The disruptive forces shaping the future of the insurance industry are familiar to everyone working in the sector.

Technology changes, including the need for both mobile and digital-first approaches, and the need to support learning and skills development in remote working environments, has only multiplied the challenges in attracting, training, retaining and nurturing the new talent that’s crucial for success in more automated human-to-hybrid models.

Insurers must be able to balance all of these needs if they’re to support the evolving needs of employees, customers and regulators.

By taking positive and strategic action now, they can create an environment in which employees are enabled to grow and meet new challenges, new talent can bring fresh skills and agility, and innovation in these new commercial models can thrive.

While the insurance industry offers many of the things that upcoming graduates and young professionals look for in a career, it’s often overlooked. According to a study from Manpower Group, insurers need to attract more young people to work for them. The insurance industry is often not an immediate choice of industry for younger age groups or seen as being at the forefront of innovation. But in the US, 25% of insurance professionals are expected to retire in the next three years, and there’s a significant talent shortage here in the UK too.

According to insurance firm Ecclesiastical, 80% of insurers want to attract younger talent but 52% find it a challenge to recruit those aged 30 and younger. A lack of experience, skills or qualifications are the main causes behind this issue, alongside a shortage of young applicants.

Millennials can deliver many benefits to the insurance sector. Alongside helping with succession planning, they provide fresh perspectives, diversity of thought, and new ideas. Since this is a generation that has grown up with technology, they fully appreciate changing customer expectations (and often possess the same views) and have the digital-first mindset that will help their employer to adapt.

The industry struggles with several misconceptions that hinder its ability to attract recruits from this generation. Many people associate insurance with underwriting – and if this job doesn’t appeal, they discount the industry entirely. There’s a lack of understanding of the full range of opportunities and career paths that the industry can offer. What’s more, rightly or wrongly, insurance is often viewed as having a slightly stuffy, formal working environment. This doesn’t positively compare to other more modern, technology-led workplaces.

Insurers must be more proactive in managing their employer brand. On the one hand, they need to embrace new employment models and more flexible ways of working, since nearly half of employees worldwide would prefer something other than a full-time job. Educating young people at school and college would help to address the misconceptions that exist, too, but this will take longer to reap rewards.

On the other hand, automation is liberating employees from monotonous drudgery, offering them more engaging employment and the companies that adopt it a competitive edge.

Insurance needs a major rebrand to attract new talent, and a multitude of factors have created a skills crisis across the sector, as both incumbents and Insurtechs face challenges in attracting and retaining the next wave of talented recruits.

As their seasoned employees retire, they must recruit young talent and develop it into future leaders. One of the more innovative ways to  do this is to invest in and grow your workforce’s skills with an apprenticeship programme. With employment opportunities likely to become increasingly scarce for younger generations, it’s even more important that you act now to future-proof your organisation against the upcoming skills gap.

We recommend seven best practices for creating a successful apprenticeship programme:

1. Future-proof your business and understand the skills gaps

It’s important to future-proof your business against upcoming skills gaps. Apprenticeships are often overlooked when organisations are considering FTE or contingent resources but they offer a wealth of benefits to businesses and learners alike. The challenge lies in identifying the right programmes for your business needs, how to enrol your employees onto apprenticeships, drawing down from your levy and ensuring that both you and your apprentices have the right support throughout.

At Capita we invest in and work with organisations to grow their workforce’s skills, and we can help you to unlock the full range of benefits that apprenticeships offer.

2. Collaborate, understand and align to your business goals

You need an apprenticeship programme that’s designed with your learners in mind, integral to your learning strategy and aligned to your business goals.

It’s important to collaborate with your hiring managers and heads of departments, to understand those goals, your skills gaps, and your workforce’s wants and needs from their careers and you as an employer. All of this will help you to create a unique learner-led apprenticeship strategy and programme that tackle your specific business learning and development challenges and aims.

It’s important to offer a range of apprenticeships, aligned to career development pathways across multiple business functions, that are designed to develop employees in junior roles right through to senior members of the business.

Your programme will need to reach a range of functions, whether it’s customer service, claims, underwriting, actuarial, sales and marketing, policy administration, finance and accounting, project management or operations, to ensure that it meets their skills and knowledge requirements.

3. Reskilling for ‘super roles’ in the hybrid insurance workforce

An apprenticeship programme must address both the needs of a future insurance workforce and your need to develop a new breed of talent capable of innovating.

The insurance sector is typically data-driven and process-heavy. It’s undergoing a significant workforce transformation, as automation technologies assume manual tasks across the value chain. Many functions and related jobs are being reimagined. Multiple automation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are combining in an Intelligent Automation (IA) strategy to solve complex business issues. The future workforce will be a hybrid between human and AI elements. Tomorrow’s insurance professionals will perform what the industry is calling the “super jobs” of the future - moving flexibly across the enterprise to collaborate with peers in other functions. New job roles will have titles like ‘designer’, ‘architect’ and ‘analyst’.

Many insurers are breaking traditional insurance jobs down into their component parts and then subtracting the parts that can be automated. The remaining soft skills, like managing people and creatively solving problems, redefine the new roles. The critical skills of the future will be adaptability, curiosity, responsibility and resilience.

These workforce changes will boil upwards to the very top of insurance organisations, giving rise to new roles and titles designed to inspire people as they collaborate and work together successfully. These new job titles will include chief behavioural scientist, chief customer experience officer, chief employee experience officer and chief data and actuarial officer.

Aligning your development of people’s skills to these new roles will become increasingly important.

4. Develop trusted partnerships

Finding the expertise to run learning programmes internally can be a challenge. A positive approach can be to review either running a programme inhouse or outsourcing or running hybrid models, depending on the need. It’s possible to outsource the running your apprenticeship programme, from attraction and enrolment through to supplier management and administration, and you can also scale resources and experience to support the right programme for your organisation and any changes to your strategy.

5. Provide a continuous feedback loop

It’s vital that you continuously evaluate your apprenticeship programmes. Measuring them against benchmarks such as learner satisfaction and quality of learning is important; according to Ofsted and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, it can significantly affect your business. This because they may inspect your programmes and publish their findings online.

As your apprenticeship journey continues, so will your apprentices’ development, talents and skills. You can expect to reap the rewards of investing in apprenticeships as soon as your programmes begin, with a notable and growing positive impact on your workforce and wider business.

6. Adapting the switch to digital delivery

As we’ve moved in and out of lockdowns across the country, it’s crucial for organisations to adapt from a face-to-face delivery model to a digital model, designed to support apprentices and other employees who need to have a great learning experience in a safe environment.

Being able to scale up digital learning programmes quickly is critical.

To ensure that your organisation remains ‘learner-led’, establish a steering group so that learners do not have their training comprised. Engage talent coaches and establish a learners’ feedback loop so that you can adapt your content and materials accordingly.

Establishing a learning platform that holds a whole host of new online training content for apprentices is important. It’s also important to make it as simple as possible for users to securely access the content. Furthermore, adopting a single sign-on solution will make everything easily accessible for apprentices, at the touch of a button from home. To support apprentices, upskill your talent coaches so that they’re fully familiar with the new content, and continue to guide each learner through the activities that they need to complete each month.

7. Remain agile and flexible for future change

With a new digital offering, it’s important to take a flexible and agile approach and to tailor your apprenticeship programmes to suit your and your employees’ needs.

Overall, the number of apprenticeships has grown during recent years and the Government’s recent Plan for Jobs and Lifetime Skills Guarantee shows that it understands the value that an apprenticeship has. It’s important for insurers to continue to play their part in training and upskilling people to meet their goals.

Insurers should be led by their learners in adapting apprenticeship programmes. Many don’t envisage a complete return to physical offices soon and are adapting their working practices to suit.

About Capita Apprenticeships

At Capita, we’re a people business, here to support our customers at tricky, often stressful times.

We’re Europe’s leading managed learning services provider, helping more than 8,000 apprentices a year to complete their programmes across a broad range of subjects.

Our portfolio of products supports all professional services including insurance, financial services, retail banking and leadership and management.

Find out more about Capita learning and the apprenticeships we provide.

Written by

Gabriel Swift

Gabriel Swift

Account Based Marketing, Capita

Gabriel specialises in Account Based Marketing, With over 25 years’ experience working in IT organisations, Gabriel is passionate about innovation, creative thinking and enabling and supporting Senior Sales stakeholders in achieving their goals.

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