Attitudes towards vocational pathways must change
With National Apprenticeship Week starting today and parliament’s Education Committee calling for further increases in apprenticeships, the Chartered Insurance Institute’s David Thomson calls for the Government to do more to address the biggest challenge facing the insurance sector – talent.
How important are apprenticeships to the insurance industry?
One of the biggest challenges facing our sector is that of talent – ensuring that we have a strong and diverse flow that safeguards the UK’s position as a global insurance leader. The best way to secure our rich heritage and foster the innovation necessitated by the fast paced world we operate in, is to draw from the widest and most diverse talent pool.
Apprenticeships provide a valuable entry point into our profession and give food for thought to those who might, in the past, have dismissed insurance as not for them. They give apprentices the knowledge and experience to embark on a successful career and they provide employers with a host of benefits.
Are employers in insurance engaging with apprenticeships?
We are seeing an increasing awareness amongst employers of insurance apprenticeships and a willingness to take on an apprentice. Last year saw a 21% rise in technical apprenticeship starts across insurance and financial services. The direction of travel is good, though there is always more that can be done.
Our profession was an early adopter of the government’s shift to employers designing new apprenticeships - trailblazers. And as a professional body, the CII is taking an even greater involvement in the creation of standards and assessment; thus providing peace of mind for employers who understand the value of a professional body in this context.
We are also supporting employers through the publication of
Apprenticeships: The CII’s guide to getting started. It provides assistance on apprenticeships to businesses operating in our sector, highlights their value and suggests how best to utilise them.
Has the Government done enough to encourage young people into apprenticeships?
Research carried out by the CII last year found that only 19% of sixth form students questioned would consider an apprenticeship. The vast majority, 82%, plan on going to university, with this route being seen as a fast track to a well paid job.
Although the Government is promoting apprenticeships through its ‘Get in. Go far’ campaign, it is clear from our research that more needs to be done to dispel some of the misconceptions around apprenticeships. There is still some way to go if we are to bridge the gap between attitudes towards university and vocational pathways.
Urgent improvements are needed to improve the situation of careers education in school. Our survey also found that only a third of students feel information about career choices is inspiring, and just over half find careers advice in school is helpful. If young people are going to understand the value of an apprenticeship and the career options they provide, then careers advice has to improve.