I read with interest the short article "Technical talent shortage" within the page 2 lead story (News, 18 August).

Without seeing the full results of the research, I can only partly agree with Biba's findings that the biggest talent shortage in the industry is technical training, as stated in the article.

It is true that there seems to be more emphasis placed on training geared to practical knowledge rather than pure technical knowledge, which gives the impression that technical training is poor.

This is a natural consequence of an industry where business is conducted at a hundred miles an hour and tends to focus on delivering service as quickly and effectively as possible.

Despite the FSA, customers demand speedy, efficient responses, rather than deep technical understanding.

In much the same way that traditionalists bemoaned the advent of pocket calculators as the bête noir of arithmetical dexterity, who in their right mind would want to cram their overstretched brains with the minutiae of an obscure clause in a marine cargo wording, when in two minutes they can look it up on the internet? It's called progress!

The secret is to have a properly organised training plan, geared to address weaknesses in knowledge, highlighted from well thought out competence assessments.

The resultant training then needs to be varied in its delivery, supported by good documentation for reference purposes and geared to practical application in the working environment

Our brokers are encouraged and supported to achieve this goal in an organised, well documented and interesting way, making use of online resources, training workshops, practical document templates and - above all - a common sense approach to training that fits in with the working day.

Far more worrying from my point of view, is the lack of soft skills that there appears to be in equipping modern-day brokers to deal with business life.

Management and leadership, delegation, organisational and time management skills, as well as the art of communication in general seem to have been given short shrift in recent times.

You can't be without these skills to run a successful business. I place as much emphasis on these skills as I do technical skills - another great advantage of belonging to a proactive network.

Paul Bryant
HR & training director
Cobra