Susan Dalrymple recently became the seventh Modern Apprentice in Insurance Intermediaries (MA) in Scotland. This led to great celebration at Giles Insurance, as all seven apprentices work for the company, Scotland's largest independent insurance broker.

Dalrymple, 25, joined Giles in 1995 and soon started working on her SVQ and MA qualifications. Starting in commercial claims, she now specialises in renewals, where she is the department manager, overseeing a team of eight colleagues.

“The MA programme is a immense challenge that I am extremely proud to have successfully accomplished. It's very rewarding to see something through from start to finish,” she says.

“I started the programme when I was 19 as a trainee and now I'm a manager, with several qualifications to enhance my promotional prospects, as well as the opportunity to continue with further vocational training.”

Dalrymple has encouraged several of her colleagues to take advantage of the opportunity to learn at work. She has three people in her department working toward their MA and another enrolled in the level two insurance SVQ.

Giles, a licensed training provider working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, set up the Skill-seekers' Training Programme in 1997. The objective of the programme is to train individuals straight from school with a proficiency in the insurance and financial sector.

Training development manager Janet Hutchinson says: “Giles is committed to learning and we encourage all staff members to pursue further training, from skill-seekers through to directors. We feel staff can always learn something new that will ensure we offer our clients a quality and efficient service.

“Giles is always interested in speaking to potential candidates regarding its Skill-seekers' Programme and offers them a chance to follow in Susan's footsteps.”

Giles also operates a level two insurance General VQ and Administration VQ, which offers skill-seekers the opportunity to complete a VQ and an MA while earning money working and gaining experience.

Recently, Scottish Enterprise hosted “Developing Your Workplace”, an initiative to promote Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland's financial sector. Giles was invited to present the virtues of the MA programme, along with industry heavyweights Standard Life and Barclays Stockbrokers.

Reward for the effort
The company has been honoured by Scottish Enterprise as having one of the best Modern Apprentice programmes in Scotland and the Scottish Executive presented Giles with the Certificate of Recognition, only awarded once previously in Scotland.

Hutchison says: “We were delighted to receive this accolade of recognition for our MA programme. Giles prides itself on the high standard of training provided and the MA programme is only the first step in our commitment to ongoing learning. Life-long education is at the forefront of the company culture.”

The broker now has 45 staff working toward their Modern Apprentice qualifications. In addition, joint managing directors Chris and Nick Giles are both working on the final stage of completing their Executive MBA qualification. The majority of the company's directors and managers are following their lead and have made a start on the MBA programme.

Dalrymple says she has found her calling in insurance and plans on many more years of service with Giles. “It is not just a job, but a lifestyle and many of my colleagues feel the same way. The prospect to grow within an organisation and reap the benefits of learning is second to none and provides staff with a strong sense of self-confidence and company loyalty.”

Dalrymple is now registered for the NEBS Management course. With her MA course behind her and further training ahead, Dalrymple's future holds a wide spectrum of possibilities.

“I look forward to embarking on new challenges because you just never know what lies ahead of you,” she said.