The relationship between the insurance industry and new talent has historically been a contentious one. There are many schools of thought on why the industry has found attracting young people so difficult, but clear to all involved is the need for practical solutions rooted in understanding the needs of this new generation.
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has embraced this need in a myriad of ways recently, from partnering up with the International Association for Sustainable Economy, to establishing ESG qualifications, to helping launch a new MBA. Now, the Institute has revealed the launch of new partnerships with UK universities to boost access to the insurance and personal finance profession.
Discussing the partnership which the CII has entered into with the University of East Anglia (UEA), the CII’s corporate development director, Steve Jenkins (pictured), highlighted the opportunity to emphasise the range of career opportunities available to young people in this industry.
“In the past, people have thought that insurance is just a place where men in grey suits work and that it’s all a bit boring,” he said. “Insurance is seen as the process of ringing up a call centre to argue about your motor insurance premium, when of course the reality is completely different to that.
“Over the last year at the CII we’ve set up a team to reach out to higher education establishments, universities mainly but also some other organisations such as Pearson Education and BPP, to better articulate what the world of insurance holds for graduates… And we’ve found that by making this effort, there is an increasing interest in the range of opportunities that exists within the profession, particularly around analytics and digital and claims and underwriting, and especially around broking as an advice profession.”
These opportunities are piquing the interest of career services as well as students, Jenkins said, as they tie into the knowledge of the world as a place that is becoming increasingly risky, due to phenomena such as climate change, pandemics and floods. The fundamental message of insurance, where the contribution of the many funds the needs of the few, is starting to resonate with the upcoming generation, perhaps more than it ever has before.
“At the same time,” Jenkins noted, “universities are themselves facing challenges and increasing competitive pressures, not least with the prospect of not having as many overseas students, so they are increasingly competing with each other on employability… And the vast majority of universities, particularly the newer ones, are having to really work hard at evidencing to their students that they are able to facilitate career choices for them.”
What the CII is offering through its university partnerships is the opportunity for students to blend their academic learning with professional learning, he said, so that when they graduate they have elements of both which will allow them to stand out from their peers. The CII has been working with the sector as a de facto matchmaker through its outreach programme to match demand with supply, and is seeing an upswing in momentum. There exists a real opportunity right now for more insurers, more MGAs, more London Market firms and more brokers to work with the CII to bridge the gap between the insurance industry and new talent.
Vivine Cameron, the education partnerships manager at the CII, outlined the key benefits that the institute’s partnership with UEA will entail.
“When I went and spoke to the universities that we’ve worked with historically, I just asked ‘what does the landscape look like, what are we doing well and how can we work together?’” Cameron said. “[The question is] how can we finesse what we’re doing as a profession because there is clearly not enough new talent coming into the insurance and personal finance profession. So, we have decided to work with the most obvious partner – universities, to look at how we can refine [our offering], and make it viable in a practical, real and productive way.”
Cameron outlined how the benefits of the CII’s university partnership initiative have encompassed every associated partner. For the universities, this is a solid way of demonstrating their capacity to find meaningful employment for their students as the CII’s members recognise the value of the qualifications and the academic strength that they signify. Meanwhile, employers recognise that these graduates are already well on the way to meeting the professional standards they require, and they can move these staff members from training to the marketplace much quicker.
Finally, for the students themselves, these qualifications put them head and shoulders above other applicants in the marketplace as they demonstrate their capacity to become qualified and professional and to work towards Chartered status. Also, through this, Cameron noted, the student can signify their interest in the profession as a long-term ambition, which is immensely valuable to the industry.
“For me, personally, as a learning and development professional,” Cameron said, “I’m always excited about seeing people finding their way, and finding their route. And it’s really great to be in a position as part of an organisation that’s facilitating people finding their role and a career that has got longevity, good progression and very engaged employers.”