The CII’s director of communications David Ross on its campaign to boost the number of apprentices within the insurance industry

We’ve all heard the great and the good of the industry use speaking platforms to decry the lack of new talent coming into the sector. More needs to be done, they say, to encourage young people to join a dynamic and vibrant industry. It’s a people business and we need to attract the best, they insist.

Everyone nods, applauds the sentiment and goes back to their day job and does precisely nothing to rectify the problem. The hope, presumably, being that someone else will sort it out at some point.

At the launch of Apprenticeships LIVE in March, I joined a group of about 150 people from across the profession to discuss how best to promote talent.

One of the questions posed to the group was how they found their way into insurance. More than 90% acknowledged they had ‘fallen into the industry’.

I doubt this figure has changed significantly over the past 20 years – even I must admit to having ‘fallen into’ the role of trainee underwriter aged 18.

In the UK we struggle with the idea of an apprentice. It brings to mind someone learning a trade, a garage mechanic or some form of manual labour.

With university the default position for most parents looking to do what’s best for their children, apprenticeships in the UK face an uphill struggle to earn the parity of esteem they enjoy in other countries.

In Germany or Switzerland a technical apprentice is regarded as the equal of a graduate and parents have no hesitation in signing their children up to an apprenticeship as a viable alternative to university.

The right stuff

The challenge we face is to change our perception and that’s one of the key reasons the CII and Insurance Times are working together on this initiative. You see, whenever I meet an apprentice, they never fail to impress me.

And it’s not only me. Others from the sector who have employed an apprentice are almost exclusively positive about the experience.

Yes, apprentices may be a little rough around the edges to begin with, but their attitude, enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge is exactly what those who decry the dearth of talent in the sector are looking for.

We developed the Apprenticeships LIVE campaign to showcase how these young people can add value to a business and help shape the future of our profession.

I would encourage you to explore how an apprentice can help your firm flourish. To learn more, visit