Education expert calls on industry to ‘raise the bar’

Education expert calls on industry to ‘raise the bar’ | Insurance Business

Education expert calls on industry to ‘raise the bar’
A leading educator of insurance industry staff has called on the industry to “raise the bar.”

Sheila Baker, managing director of GoldSeal, said that the industry has an “insufficient balance,” between the training of hard and soft skills and called on all those involved in the industry to pitch in.

“I believe the industry needs to address the standard of the content that is provided to students,” Baker told Insurance Business.

“Soft skills are required in the workplace based competencies but they are inadequately assessed. This is shown to us repeatedly when we run our workshops and attendees – who have begun but not completed their insurance education – are unable to demonstrate basic communication skills such as speaking in front of a group, building rapport etc.”

Baker called for more hands-on training for soft skills the industry is lacking as online education comes up short.

“It’s very difficult to teach and assess soft skills in an online environment,” Baker continued.

“It would be better for the industry if there were other learning modalities involved in the teaching of soft skills. Classroom learning, coaching and mentoring in the workplace and a greater recognition of the value of soft skills are the missing elements.”

Baker said that insurance diplomas are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to difficulty and the minimalist approach to education needs to change.

“The insurance industry offers the cheapest, shortest and easiest Diplomas I’ve any seen anywhere,” Baker said.

Gold Seal participates reluctantly in this minimalism as a means of survival. It grates with us philosophically because our business is built on providing quality services.

“The industry allows the regulator to dictate the content of our education, and that’s OK but we have taken it to be the only standard rather than the minimum standard. We need to move it away from that rock bottom mentality.”

The regulator could do more to ensure that the education of insurance professional’s progresses as Baker believes an open system is the first step to successful change.

“Creating an open, transparent and fair education offering is the first step,” Baker said.

“If the regulator is involved then they should enforce rules that are applicable to all parties. There should be no doubt in any minds about the requirements, which should be expressed clearly. On occasion where we have had a difference of opinion with other education bodies and we have sought clarification from ASIC, they have simply told us to ‘consult with our education provider.'

“There is little recognition of how the industry operates by the regulator and they fail to take into account the market forces at work.”