Apprentices – bridging the talent gap

Insurers face a looming talent crisis that can only be addressed by attracting youngsters from the Millennial and GenZ generations. We know insurance is vibrant and challenging, with much to offer career-wise, but to date our industry has struggled to reach them. We asked two of our apprentices, Lawrence Christophe and Millie Owen, for their views on what made insurance and in particular Asta, an attractive place to start their careers.

Neither Lawrence nor Millie chose university. Millie always knew it wasn’t for her, and by the time she finished ‘A’ levels she had been on several work experience programmes where she excelled. An apprenticeship at Asta offered the perfect opportunity for Millie to gain greater work experience and continue with her development. Whilst Lawrence applied to university, he always felt an apprenticeship could offer much wider opportunities and a different experience. So, instead of amassing a substantial debt and with no clear career plan, Lawrence felt his time would be better spent learning whilst working and earning.

Millie and Lawrence are not unusual in choosing this route. The number of UK students planning to go to university is falling as the apprenticeship alternative grows. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy from April 2017 has encouraged more employers to offer apprenticeships, although many more could do so, which would help sustain the trend. Insurers, among others, should reconsider their hiring practices. Whilst we shouldn’t close the doors to graduates, but we should ensure that we also consider recruiting A-Level students, and apprenticeships are a great way to do this.

Since joining Asta, Lawrence and Millie have found that their peers have little understanding of insurance, or more specifically the Lloyd’s market and the broad range of career opportunities from underwriting, finance, actuarial and claims to IT, broking, exposure management and risk modelling. Both agreed that greater awareness of these career paths would increase our sector’s appeal to their peers. Social media is one channel they agreed could be used to achieve this.

Informing young people about insurance career opportunities should not stop at recruiting. One side of the Asta apprenticeship that Lawrence and Millie appreciate most is their engagement in three internal six-month placements in different departments. Both say this is giving them a much greater understanding of insurance, of Asta, and of their potential career direction.

They equally appreciate the value of a professional qualification – paid for by Asta – which the apprenticeship includes. Lawrence and Millie are both currently working towards their Certificate in Insurance, and will receive a bonus when they finish.

We believe that Millennials and GenZers have much to teach us and that they are essential to our future. To attract them to insurance we need to understand their career aspirations and the qualities they look for in an employer. We have evolved our hiring approach to reflect this, and to better engage with the leaders of the future.

Millennials and GenZers place emphasis on qualities that were not necessarily as important to past generations. Pay is important, of course, but they are equally focused on maintaining a good work-life balance and developing meaningful relationships with colleagues. Happily, both Millie and Lawrence say Asta has this about right, providing them with a positive environment in which they can take their first step towards building a career in our industry.