AXA chief admits there are not enough vacancies to meet CII target of 5,000

The extent of the challenge facing the insurance industry in attracting graduates to the sector was thrown into sharp relief at the CII conference this week.

The CII wants to attract 5,000 graduates to the sector over five years, but senior industry figures highlighted the difficulties facing the sector in achieving this.
AXA Insurance chief executive Peter Hubbard admitted during one of the conference sessions that there were not enough graduate jobs within the insurance industry to meet the target.

Asked by a delegate whether the insurance industry had enough graduate job vacancies, Hubbard replied: "No".
Hubbard insisted that the issue for the insurance industry was attracting people with the right skills rather than qualifications.

"We have to have a graduate recruitment plan but we cannot ignore the 90% of our employees who are not graduates," he said. "We need more graduates and more people, but I need people who have the right skills. Whether they are graduates or not doesn't matter. Values are more important that qualifications."

David Gittings, who chairs the Lloyd's market professional standards committee, highlighted the attraction of employing overseas students, citing statistics that showed 22% of financial service graduates come from overseas universities.

"Overseas universities offer degrees that combine a better mixture of academic and practical study, and the students themselves have a greater international awareness and better linguistic capabilities," he said.

Stephen Reid, Marsh managing director and head of risk management practice, said the emphasis should be put on "acquiring and retaining" staff. He said the industry needed to change what it offered recruits to bring it more into line with what university leavers want from a job, such as career progression.

The CII officially unveiled its talent initiative at the conference with the aim of raising the profile of the insurance industry with school leavers and graduates in a bid to entice more to join the sector. This included a dedicated insurance careers website.

One delegate told Insurance Times: "There seems to be a gulf between what the CII thinks graduates want and what they [the graduates] know they want. This is a good starting point but there is still a lot to be done."
Another insurer said: "What Hubbard said was right. There is a talent shortage but there are also very few jobs for graduates. It's a catch-22 situation."