CII director of marketing Ian Simons says the future depends on accessing the broadest possible pool of talent

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In order to invest for the future, businesses need some degree of knowledge of what that future might look like. And if it’s true that most businesses’ biggest asset is their people, then investing in their future talent is one of the most important decisions they could take.

The first CII skills survey in 2007 showed that skills and talent barely registered as an issue for boards. The situation today is markedly different with a host of different surveys, including the PwC global CEO survey and the CSFI’s bi-annual Insurance Banana Skins report, acknowledging the challenges in attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining the right talent for the future.

This has certainly come across in the CII’s ongoing discussions with leaders from across the market. The problem of being able to attract and retain the best, features in the top risks for most boards.

As that focus has increased, most insurers and brokers have evolved their talent strategies from a traditional focus on graduate intake and hiring from within the industry to a much broader approach, including second careers and those returning to work following career breaks. Apprenticeships have not historically played a large part in this, but increasingly look like a valuable way of attracting diverse talent. There are already a number of technical insurance apprenticeships that include professional qualifications – and that number is only going to rise.

Last year’s CII skills survey found that 45% of insurance employers were running a technical apprenticeship scheme, with 12% planning to do so. We expect this to rise as employers realise the benefits an apprenticeship scheme can bring.

And taking on an apprentice is not as daunting as you might expect. The CII provides assistance to those looking to develop their own apprentices. We have an online toolkit at to support firms. We can help you find an accredited training provider, who will also support you in some of some of the administration and in accessing funding.

The most significant change to apprenticeships is of course the funding model and apprenticeship levy. The levy will be paid by businesses with a paybill of over £3m and this money will fund apprenticeships from next April.

But while the levy has focused many people’s minds on how they can rapidly increase the number of apprentices they employ, most are looking at it is a strategic decision aimed at achieving the talent they need for the future, and not just a way of recouping levy funding. Whatever the future may look like, accessing the broadest possible pool of talent will help your business face the opportunities and challenges that may prevail, and apprenticeships - done well - look like a good way of achieving a large part of that.