3rd December 2021
This was first published in HR News
The UK insurance industry should be a magnet for talent, as an established global leader employing over three hundred thousand people – yet any employer in the industry will tell you the reality is quite different.
Despite experiencing positive growth overall, relatively few young people are proactively choosing a career in insurance, leading to roles going vacant and the industry as a whole ageing every year.
Now, with Coronavirus lockdowns having accelerated the use of technology across the insurance sector, the need for digitally and analytically skilled talent has become even more urgent.
One of the reasons behind the apparent lack of interest from young, qualified individuals to proactively pursue a career in this field is the perception that insurance is an “old-fashioned” industry and less inclusive than some alternatives.
Competition from other industries which are perceived to offer more clearly defined career paths, specialised training, job security and longevity of roles is another major issue.
To address these challenges, the industry now needs to prioritise talent attraction, and rethink how it markets itself to the next generation of entry-level talent. Employers must develop attraction strategies targeted at people with the skills they need, against this context of industry-wide change in the insurance sector.
With learning and development budgets cut short for firms across the UK, utilising Government initiatives such as the apprenticeship levy to upskill people should be an essential part of any insurance firm’s recruitment and retention strategy. Firms should start to make the most of levy funds now to develop their future talent with the skills the insurance industry needs for the future.
Historically, the perception of apprenticeships has been less prestigious, but thankfully this has finally started to change. Apprenticeships are no longer being viewed as a second rate option and learning and development teams across the UK are working hard to bust the remaining myths that can sadly put people off pursing them.
Apprenticeships are not just for new starters, young people or trades. They are available to people of any age for courses up to the equivalent of degree level, and can be completed at any point in a person’s career. They are vital in supporting individuals with their professional development as well as underpinning their progression.
As well as ensuring training opportunities and a clear progression pathway for new and existing candidates, employers in the insurance industry need to be conscious of their employee reward schemes. Now more than ever, businesses are losing out on potential candidates simply because competitors are offering more competitive salaries, better bonus and benefits packages and the opportunity of flexible working.
As society and the insurance industry moves toward a more technology-focused method of operating, it is important for firms to be seen to be implementing digital processes and systems to mirror progressive and forward thinking attitudes.
2020 witnessed a dramatic change to the way the vast majority of people worked, and all the signs indicate this change will continue after the pandemic. Where historically insurance firms may have been reluctant to facilitate remote or flexible working, it’s clear businesses can still operate effectively in this way.
Many businesses are considering a long-term move to a hybrid work model post-pandemic, with two or three days based at home and the remainder in offices. This will likely provide financial and accessibility benefits to both employee and employer, with businesses that embrace flexible working likely to attract and retain talent.
In doing so, employers will also shift the perception that business operations are “outdated” so that young professionals consider it a future-focused industry they envision themselves working in.
There is no doubt that the insurance industry will continue to face challenges in attracting, developing and retaining fresh talent, however this can be mitigated if employers incorporate a technological and strategic approach to growing their workforce – this is the only way they will be able to compete with other industries in the battle for the best and brightest talent.
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