School leavers and graduates demonstrate lack of business knowledge, says report

Insurers have added their voice to growing concern about the lack of business skills of school leavers and graduates, according to a new survey.

This week the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) published a major research report into skills shortages in the insurance sector.

Of the 232 insurance companies surveyed, the majority (61%) identified that school leavers and graduates demonstrated a lack of business knowledge. Core skills such as literacy and numeracy were also highlighted as being limited.

The report claimed that more than four out of five employers believed improved employee skills were essential to maintaining a competitive edge.

The FSSC said the report would form the first two stages of the Skills Bill, an 18-month long programme of work which will culminate in the Sector Skills Agreement in September.

The agreement will set out how best to use training in the financial services industry, and agree a protocol for the private and public sectors to work together to upgrade skills levels.

The research will be delivered to the Chancellor's high level group, which has been established to assess the competitiveness of the City of London, by Teresa Sayers, chief executive of the FSSC. The Department for Education and Skills will also be involved in the process.

The report said: "School leavers and graduates dominated the skills agenda for insurers, as they reportedly lack industry and product knowledge, have insufficient practical knowledge relevant to their line of work, limited capacity for self motivation and self direction, and a limited understanding of client needs."

The report also said employed administrative and sales staff were short of industry knowledge, while managers were found to be less proficient at handling staff relationships.

Recruitment was also reported to be a difficulty for 85% of employers. The South West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East faced the most extensive skills shortages.