Steve Wellard says we have to pull together to ensure a good supply of recruits

How many times have you heard it said that insurance is a people business?

All of us involved in insurance know how much the market depends on the skill and enthusiasm of those who work in it. And, by and large, the people who work in insurance boast many skills and have plenty of energy and enthusiasm.

But we need to face an uncomfortable truth: very few skilled people are enthusiastic about joining us.

Think about your own situation. Did you grow up wanting to be an insurance executive? Chances are, you came into insurance more or less by accident. It was only once you got bedded down into your career that you realised how rich and fulfilling insurance can be.

The insurance industry needs an inwards flow of talent to help it remain innovative and capable of serving its customers needs. Without an overarching strategy we will lose out in the recruitment market to disciplines such as accountancy and the law, jeopardising our overall position in the professional services arena.

It is no longer sufficient to rely on an adequate supply of 'accidental' recruits. We require a plan of action that will stimulate interest among school-leavers and graduates and improve the general perception of what insurance has to offer in terms of career potential.

Historically, we may have not been seen as a bona fide profession, with all the cachet and status that brings. If we are going to attract the people we need, serious action is necessary.

Individual companies decide their own tactics, but genuine progress will be secured much faster if there is an industry-wide initiative that addresses fundamental problems and devises solutions with universal relevance and appeal.

In October at the UK Insurance and Financial Services Conference, the CII will unveil a talent programme that has the potential to make a real difference to the industry as a whole.

Drawn up under the guidance of the companies supporting the CII talent taskforce it will challenge perceptions, provide information and stimulate interest.

But for it to have the impact required, it will need everyone in the industry to support it.

What does that entail? It means using the bank of support materials, promoting the dedicated talent website, taking an active role by visiting schools and universities and generally devoting time, energy and resource to this most critical of issues. We need to think about tomorrow today.

However we came into insurance, most of us are glad we did. Let's make sure others have the chance to join us. IT

' Steve Wellard is director of communications at the CII