Opportunity Knocks ...

Matthew Metcalfe discusses the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy

Matthew Metcalfe“Apprenticeships are not new in insurance. The ‘Trailblazers’ standard has been well embraced, with insurers and brokers alike taking on talented young people wanting to take a paid route to learning. But big change is on the horizon and I believe we’re about to see a world of new opportunities open up, thanks to the forthcoming apprenticeship levy. The government has committed to having 3 million additional apprenticeships start by 2020, funded by an employer levy. With levy contributions from the insurance sector  likely to total well in excess of £10m, that’s a sizeable opportunity.

In my role as project manager for the levy for Covéa Insurance, I’m picking up a genuine desire across the industry to maximise this spend, rather than write it off as a tax, and  a real enthusiasm for what the levy can deliver. It will allow us to be bold and try new things. This is a chance to recruit based on attitude and drive, rather than on having a set number of academic qualifications or UCAS points. It’s a chance to embrace apprenticeships as a genuine talent pool that has not always been universally appreciated in the past.

Encouragingly, outdated attitudes to apprenticeships are changing. Many successful high profile people have proudly gone on record about their vocational training, helping to publicly deliver the message that traditional academic qualifications are not the only route to a successful career. This, coupled with the fear of student debt is persuading people to consider apprenticeships, and there’s never been a better time!

The new apprenticeship system is simpler and will no longer be age-bound in terms of funding. This means recruiting someone over the age of 25 won’t necessarily create the budget concerns it may have previously, opening up many avenues for employers in financial services. We see a huge opportunity to use traineeships as the first step for those who haven’t necessarily considered that an apprenticeship could work for them. It’s low risk for us as an employer, helps to deliver vital skills to the learner, and may just unearth a hidden gem who could be that future executive or even the CEO.

One of the challenges we face as an industry is plugging the digital skills gap. Training standards have already been approved for delivery to help address that. Lots of IT functions too are looking at how the levy will allow them to “grow their own” talent over the next few years, to generate a constant stream of cyber security experts or software developers coming in through the apprenticeship route.

Universities we’ve spoken to are already planning how they can work with employers to offer degree equivalent options for students. It’s going to be a key part of our strategy that we stay close to universities in our regions and support students who are struggling with the financial pressures of funding a degree – why let this talent drop out, when we can offer them an apprenticeship opportunity with us?

It will be fascinating to see what happens in 2018, when 10% of the levy can be invested outside of our businesses; some people are already looking at how they can pass this onto their supply chain, their broker or even their local community.  Only time will tell whether the ability to invest 10% of the levy in local schools will drive talent to organisations but there is no doubt that opportunity is knocking, and we need to be ready to respond.”

Originally published 24th Feb on the Chartered Insurance Institute website




Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France, generating over 16.6 billion Euros in premiums in 2020. 

Covéa Insurance looks after the insurance needs of over 1.5 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, pet, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, through a range of distribution channels. Employing over 1800 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and is signatory to the HM Treasury Women In Finance Charter. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In 2018, Covéa Insurance were recipients of the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year award at both the British Insurance Awards and the Insurance Times Awards and was the top rated insurer in the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey for both Personal and Commercial Lines.

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