Change for the better: Creating diversity in the insurance industry workforce through apprenticeships

Insurance affects almost every area of our society, from domestic to business, yet research shows that women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the industry.

Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to improve the talent pipeline and encourage diversity, enabling the sector to attract more young people.

Reflecting on its blueprint for increasing diversity a year after it was published, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the sector is starting to see improvements in Board-level diversity but progress on apprenticeships has 'stalled'.

This is a problem for companies looking to take on and train the next generation of brokers, marketers, and advisers. If budding apprenticeship applicants don’t feel represented in the industry, they’re less likely to apply for a role.

There’s also the skills gap. The UK’s shrinking workforce and need for skilled professionals was recently listed as the second biggest risk to UK firms, according to research by Aviva. And, alongside the recruitment difficulties they face, companies are also under pressure to retrain and retain existing staff.

So, how can recruiters address these challenges, whilst inspiring new talent from a broad range of backgrounds and abilities to start an apprenticeship in insurance?


Your values

Prior to promoting apprenticeship opportunities, take a look at your company mission, values, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies, and recruitment processes. Are there changes you can make within your own firm to make it a more accessible environment?

Regularly assessing your DEI goals and targets demonstrates that you’re dedicated to creating a supportive and inclusive environment. These changes will then set you in good stead to begin bringing on new recruits.

Ellie Pitman, an Accounting Apprentice at Legal & General, explained how researching company values was important when applying for the role:

Legal & General appealed to me because I liked the impact they made on society and their employees as well. Even though you’re keen to get an apprenticeship, you as the apprentice want to ensure that that company is the right fit for you. So, I was happy that their website demonstrated that to me.

We know that Gen Z place more and more emphasis on inclusion and diversity, therefore employers that put DEI at the top of their priority list will be sure to standout – so talk about what you stand for as a company.


Communication is key

It’s clear that developing and upholding your company values is key to gaining new recruits, but what channels are you utilising to communicate effectively with your target audience?

We spoke to Keriann Bergame, a Trainee Insurance Broker at BMS Group, who told us how insurance firms could attract more young people:

There's a few things we [BMS Group] have started doing and I think we should keep pushing in this direction. Giving young people a tour of where we work and showing them that there are young people like me working in these offices.

I also attended a primary school careers fair with my firm. I showed the kids and their parents that I come from a similar background as them. I’m from South East London, I used to play football just like them and I was able to get into insurance, so it’s a route they can take if they want to as well.

Keriann also advises broadening your marketing channels to build a diverse workforce that represents people from all over the UK:

Look at both your outreach and marketing channels. Obviously, if you only go into one type of school you’re only going to get one type of candidate. This is similar to social channels. A lot of young people use TikTok to access information, so using this to target your ideal candidates will demonstrate to them that you are adaptable and able to relate to them.

Ellie also mentioned that in order to ensure younger candidates are accessing opportunities, firms need to tap into the channels young people use the most:

Most people my age use TikTok, and I actually used it to research accounting apprenticeship opportunities by looking at ‘how to’ videos. They were only about 10 or 20 seconds long but they helped to explain what I needed to know about the industry.



One way you might want to connect with young talent is by offering a mentorship programme.

The career pathway offered by your organisation won't always be clear to school leavers, so offering advice and guidance from, for example, Year 9, can help young people to make an informed choice.

It’s important to pay attention to who you are offering mentorship opportunities to, as this McKinsey podcast episode on accelerating diversity in insurance highlights:

I’ve seen some insurance carriers make the bold move across senior leadership teams to ask people, ‘Who do you mentor that doesn’t look like you?’ That pushes leaders to bridge across differences, meet new people, and get outside their comfort zones. If we can hold each other accountable for who we mentor or sponsor, that’s when we’ll start to make a difference.

Remember that firms that offer candidates support from the very beginning of their application journey are more likely to build trust – boosting company loyalty and retention rates.

In 2023's Women in the Workplace report, McKinsey also recommends ongoing education and upskilling for existing managers, equipping them with the knowledge and resources they need to be successful leaders that uphold your DEI goals.


Closing the skills gap

We know the pressure the skills gap is having on UK enterprises, but it’s important to look at the positives. The need for new talent gives us the chance to talk about the industry, and how rewarding a career in insurance can be. 

When you’re marketing to a group of potential apprentices, take what they would like to hear into account. Whether you conduct schools talks, host an open day or advertise online, applicants are placing their trust in your team to give an honest and authentic reflection of the industry and where your firm sits within it.

If you want to understand the type of information potential candidates need when considering their post-school options – our new report, Project Next Generation, explores how 13-17 year-olds shape their futures.

In partnership with the Department for Education, UCAS has announced a move to help students discover apprenticeships alongside undergraduate courses. If you’re keen to increase your reach, find out more about how we work or contact our team.

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