In the recently delivered federal budget, the government announced education sector initiatives. The measures included nearly half a million fee-free TAFE and community-based vocational education places and 20,000 university spots for under-represented groups.
According to reports by education news media, the education sector welcomed the budget. Given that insurance industry stakeholders often point to a training and education deficit across their sector, could this budget help them too?
Daniel Marsh (pictured above), managing director of Blake Oliver Consulting, sees the budget initiatives as an opportunity.
“I did find the investment in education by providing more TAFE and university places interesting,” said the executive headhunter. “This presents an ideal opportunity for the insurance industry to address the skills shortage by working with the education facilities to provide insurance relevant qualifications and pathways into the industry.”
Marsh also welcomed other budget spends.
“The investment in telecom and cybercrime will also be pleasing for insurers,” he said. “It’s no secret that there continues to be an increase in cybercrime, therefore despite a tight fiscal environment, government spending in this area to maintain awareness and focus is vital.”
Marsh said linking up these cyber investments with the budget’s education sector initiatives could ease the insurance industry’s skills shortage.
“From a workforce perspective, Australia, along with the rest of the world, is suffering a skill gap in this area,” he said. “Linking back to the additional TAFE and university spaces, this is a great opportunity to address that through cyber apprenticeships and vocational qualifications.”
Prue Willsford (pictured below), CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) also welcomed the budget’s boosts to education.
“ANZIIF always welcomes further support for education,” said Willsford. “The insurance industry needs such a broad range of skills to solve the range of complex problems that we face, so general support for higher education is welcomed.”
ANZIIF is the peak membership, education, training and professional development organisation for the insurance and finance industry in Australia and New Zealand.
The CEO said “it remains imperative” that the insurance industry focuses on investment in professional development of insurance skills for new entrants.
“Over the last 15 years universities have retreated strongly from teaching risk and insurance skills as the volumes of students are not there to support the continuation of these degrees and post graduate studies,” said Willsford.
She said given that the insurance industry is competing with other sectors for graduate talent, demonstrating and investing in a clear professional pathway “is critical to attracting that talent.”
Willsford called attention to the fact that the insurance industry can’t expect to fill its talent gap by bringing in recruits from overseas.
“The insurance industry is seen as a mature industry, and as such, has not and will not attract priority visas across the board, so our efforts must focus on competing for the existing talent,” she said.
However, the CEO said the insurance industry can also focus on removing barriers to new entrants from overseas – in particular: “understanding the relaxation of work requirements for visas [as] this is a rich source of either graduating or near graduating students that are keen to work,” she said.
Willsford encouraged insurance companies to align their HR requirements to their visa requirements.
“This initiative will also assist in increasing diversity through the attraction of foreign students who are keen to work and do further study in Australia,” she said.
Willsford also encourages industry stakeholders to support ANZIIF’s Careers in Insurance program that connects with universities and students. She said it’s “a great way” to find new talent.
In Treasurer Jim Chalmer’s federal budget, the government is delivering 480,000 fee-free TAFE and community-based vocational education places over four years. The first step, according to the online budget document, is entering a $1 billion agreement with the states and territories to provide the first 180,000 places in 2023.
The government is also providing a “a one-off boost of 20,000 additional university places” to help under-represented attend university and study “in areas of in-demand skills.” The places will target students from low socio-economic backgrounds, regional and remote areas, students who are the first in their family to attend university, First Nations students and students with a disability.