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‘We must invest in our people’ Commercial express warns of escalating skills gap

Duncan Hickman

Duncan Hickman

With the insurance skills gap continuing to widen, Commercial Express is warning the industry of the importance of investing in staff from the ground upwards.

Posing the biggest issue to the UK insurance industry, recent years have seen the sector face more severe risks than other corporate fields in terms of recruiting talent, employee retention and skills development. In fact, according to recent statistics the majority (81%)1 of insurance employers admit to struggling to obtain the right skills set: constituting a 20% increase on 2013 figures.

According to Commercial Express’ managing director, Duncan Pritchard, the advent of the internet has had a huge impact: “Certainly, while the internet has brought endless positives, it has also had an undeniable impact on the day-to-day running of insurance policies. When I started out as an underwriter, for example, some 25 years ago, I had to take the time to learn the profession; understanding policy wording and what it meant in order to provide real consultancy to clients. These days, for some insurance businesses it can be more a case of switching on the screen, inputting to pre-populated data and delivering a quote; alleviating the need to develop an underwriter.

“While this may be beneficial in terms of optimising efficiencies, it does very little in terms of instigating employee engagement and ensuring retention.

“We simply cannot afford to underestimate the value of investing in talent. That’s why, at Commercial Express we place seriously investment in our staff: providing regular training from the offset coupled with a tangible path for progression – as a result our team has grown by 38% over the last year alone.

As a business committed to aiding the skills crisis, Commercial Express invests heavily in staff training and progression, resulting in its growing  repertoire of experienced and knowledgeable underwriters. It also boasts the silver ‘Investor of People’ accolade in recognition of its commitment to developing its workforce.

Also, Commercial Express recently relaunched its training academy, providing a range of free courses designed to develop and teach both new and experienced insurance professionals to help them grow their business.

Duncan adds: “The reality is that the insurance broker role offers a rewarding and fruitful career path. This is particularly pertinent in light of today’s crippling tuition costs, which have trebled in recent years – making a degree a less attractive proposition.  As such, as an industry we should be doing all we can to raise awareness and attract new talent – after all, it is our people that are the lifeblood of this industry.”