Out of a survey of 200 second and third jobbers in the London market aged between 23 and 30, over 30% were studying insurance qualifications. This figure compares favourably with a similar sample batch of Hays Inter-Selection's database from the early 1990s archives when only 12% were pursuing professional qualifications.

In today's highly competitive insurance market, where there are fewer career development opportunities than there were in the 80s and competition for opportunities is fierce, the 'switched on' job seeker should ensure they are armed with all the necessary qualifications to give them an advantage over their fellow job seekers. While studying the Chartered Insurance Institute's qualifications may not be as exciting as snow boarding or a night on the town, it is through this diligent course of continued professional education that one job seeker is able to leap frog over another in terms of career progression.

This does not suggest that qualifications alone will guarantee greater career opportunities for the committed job seeker, they will also need a balance of interpersonal and IT skills as well as the ability to work on their own initiative within a team environment. Without these key attributes many job searchers are precluded from the better opportunities within the marketplace. The requirement for professional qualifications has been a focus for most employers within the marketplace since the early 1990s when Lloyd's pre-Equitas situation caused the whole market to re-evaluate its approach and professionalism. The 1990s was the era when the UK industry got itself in shape presenting a fitter, leaner and more professional image. Qualifications are the bedrock on which this industry is shaping itself.

Most of the major international insurance broking and risk management groups require existing personnel to study professional qualifications and new personnel to be progressing with them or have achieved them prior to joining. It is now made very clear that those individuals who do not study these qualifications will be held back in career development.

On the underwriting side, the Lloyd's marketplace has become much more focused on professional qualifications at all levels, primarily because capital providers are demanding a more technical and professional approach.

The company market has always been an advocate of individuals studying professional qualifications, but, certain organisations such as Independent Insurance have taken this role seriously, taking a very committed approach in terms of providing encouragement, incentives and study days for their staff to achieve these qualifications. It is not a surprise that Michael Bright will become President of the Chartered Insurance Institute in September 2000.

Also, another dilemma faced by the industry is that as organisations want to grow their business, most are finding it difficult to recruit people who have these necessary qualifications.

Basically, there aren't enough people in the industry aged between 25 to 40 who are qualified, for organisations to make having professional qualifications mandatory for their new personnel. If they did this it would be commercial suicide as there wouldn't be enough people in the marketplace to go around between employers. It must be remembered that there are some very highly skilled, respected underwriters and senior brokers in the market who are not qualified who learned their skills and knowledge on the job. The ACII can't make people good at their jobs, it's more a demonstration of commitment. The whole marketplace is to blame for this shortage of the "ideal" candidate because in the difficult years of the early 1990s, many organisations restricted their training budget spends and cut back on their graduate and trainee management intake. This short-term thinking has led to this predicament.

Unless the major employers in the marketplace invest in cloning technology‚ then the whole industry will have to go through a 3-5 year period of intense focus on employees studying and achieving professional qualifications. In the interim, 'the qualified' can expect to be paid better than their 'non qualified' colleagues. So in summary, it's get qualified or get to the back of the opportunity queue. The Chartered Insurance Institute better get ready for the flood.