Spotlight: Apprenticeships – Developing the skills the insurance industry needs for the future with government-backed financial support schemes

26th April 2021

This article was first published by Insurance Post

Reflecting on the past year of lockdowns, remote working and economic uncertainty; with learning and development budgets cut short for firms across the UK, using the apprenticeship levy to upskill people should be an essential part of any insurance firm’s strategy Carolyn Blunt, director, Davies Group It’s time to remove the stigma associated with apprenticeships.

The global coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on our daily lives, the way we work, our communities and the economy. Sadly, with the challenges of remote working, the past year has seen a 46% decrease in the number of people on apprenticeship programmes. With development budgets cut, firms should start to make the most of levy funds now to develop their future talent with the skills our insurance industry needs for the future.

The skills that insurance firms need to succeed are changing quickly and the pandemic has highlighted a requirement for more digital and technical skills. Apprenticeships enable organisations to utilise government-backed financial support to develop future talent and create not just the knowledge but also the skills and behaviours the organisation 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 for individuals who didn’t get the grades to go to university. Learning and development teams across the UK are still working hard to bust the remaining myths surrounding apprenticeships 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.

Apprenticeships are key in the skills development strategy set out by UK government. To recover from the effects of the pandemic, the government is making £2.5bn available to support apprenticeships in 2021 and 2022 – including for organisations that do not pay the levy. Organisations can use this funding to access development and qualification opportunities with recognised apprenticeship providers. Smaller companies that do not pay the levy can also access 95% funding directly from the government for apprenticeship training and assessment costs.

Using government-backed support schemes to improve diversity and inclusion

The number of male and female apprentices across the UK is approximately the same, but pay and career progression opportunities are not. In 2020, in the financial services and insurance sectors, 521,000 full-time employees were male, compared to only 346,000 female employees. In digital and technology sectors, only 19% of the workforce are female. Only one in six tech specialists in the UK are women, and for every one female IT leader – there are nine males. The under-representation of women in male-dominated sectors has not improved in more than a decade and that is unlikely to change unless organisations take a more proactive approach. Using government-backed financial support will help ensure our talent develop the skills our industry needs for the future.

For more information on apprenticeships or how your organisation could use the apprenticeship levy, please contact Carolyn Blunt on carolyn.blunt@davies-group.com.

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