Bobbi Sills asks: how can we attract new employees to the profession as we adapt to post-Covid ways of working?
Reports of redundancies are becoming all too familiar this year, as businesses across the UK have struggled to weather the Covid-19 storm.
In October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak stressed that workers must find ways to adapt to the new reality as the government unveiled its Lifetime Skills Guarantee to support adults in developing new skills and gaining jobs.
The scheme, which will be available from April next year across England, forms part of a long-term plan to help workers retrain and upskill in the post-Covid world of work.
Businesses that have been hardest hit by the lockdown restrictions received welcome relief with the extension of the furlough scheme until March 2021, following news of the second UK national lockdown.
But how can insurance and financial services organisations adapt to attract fresh talent and encourage individuals who are being made redundant to enter the profession?
Lee Barratt, operational recruitment manager at insurance giant Ageas UK, says: “Networking is vital in attracting fresh talent as it enables businesses to reach potential candidates via as many routes as possible, including through work experience, internships and apprenticeships.”
Mr Barratt urges firms to sign up to the government’s Kickstart scheme as a way of attracting youngsters who possess transferable skills but who have not necessarily considered a career in insurance.
Under the £2bn scheme, businesses receive funding to create 30 job placements for people aged 16 to 24 on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
Given the knock-on effects of the pandemic on youth employment, now is the time for businesses to take a proactive approach in engaging with Kickstart, notes Mr Barratt.
Ageas UK also has three talent development programmes, Activate, Ascend and Accelerate, aimed at developing top talent of all ages and tenures to meet the future needs of the business. The programmes are open to individuals at all work levels within the organisation.
Mr Barratt says: “The programmes enable people at all levels to work together on different projects within the insurance sector and at Ageas UK to develop important transferable skills in collaborating and teamwork.”
There is a great talent pool of employees with transferable skills, which would be an excellent asset for the insurance profession
Networking with prospective students from a range of backgrounds is also high on the radar for the African Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN), an organisation set up to boost ethnic representation in the sector.
Much of the ACIN’s focus is on giving students valuable insights into what a career in insurance looks like, with a view to attracting the next generation of talent, says Aaron Gavin, manager at the ACIN.
He says: “Last year we launched the largest university careers fair tour in the history of the sector, where volunteering members from across the market spoke to students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines about the benefits of working in insurance.”
Off the back of this, 700 students signed up as members of the network, giving them access to ACIN-led insight days, webinars, one-to-one support, mentoring and work shadowing.
As Mr Gavin points out, graduate and entry-level recruitment campaigns, work experience and internships are also a great way to attract fresh talent to the profession.
ACIN Recruit, the talent acquisition arm of the ACIN, is a social enterprise set up to bridge the gap between diverse talent and the insurance market through various recruitment opportunities, including summer internships and work placements.
“Our networking events have created a thriving community within the London market, which bolsters employee retention,” Mr Gavin adds.
The CII partners with universities, the London Market Group, London Insurance Life Ambassadors and local institutes to bring talent into the profession.
At the heart of this work is a focus on helping individuals find a fulfilling role in which they wish to progress, notes Vivine Cameron, education partnerships manager at the CII.
As Ms Cameron acknowledges, recruiting new talent is not limited to any one age group.
She says: “There are a number of individuals, particularly in the 25-34 age range, returning to study either to reskill or to make a career change.
“There is a great talent pool of employees with transferable skills, which would be an excellent asset for the insurance profession,” concludes Ms Cameron.
Whether it be a career change due to redundancy, mature learning or a desire to reskill, individuals returning to study at any stage are given the opportunity to interact with professional panels consisting of people within the profession who have been on similar career journeys.
In June, the CII’s Education and Training Trust gave £25,000 to the Insurance Charities to ensure around 100 professionals suffering financial hardship due to Covid-19 can obtain qualifications to improve their future employment prospects.
As Covid-19 continues to accelerate changes in the world of work, there has never been a better time for firms to engage and use recruiting opportunities to attract fresh talent to the profession.
Bobbi Sills is communications executive of the CII