Bridging the skills gap in the insurance industry

[captionpix imgsrc=”” captiontext=”A group of young graduates benefiting from STANLIB’s skills development programmes“] Recent research funded by INSETA indicates, among others that there is a serious mismatch of skills between what graduates demonstrate in the workplace and what employers want.inseta_logo

Sandra Dunn, INSETA’s CEO says, “Worldwide there is a large and growing gap between the skills employers need, and those available in the market. In South Africa, under pressure to achieve economic equity, employers face an even greater challenge.”

”The insurance sector is facing skills shortages across the board. Statisticians, actuaries and experienced senior underwriters are in short supply. The pool of IT skills accessible to all industries worldwide is desperately limited, and the insurance sector in particular struggles to compete. The skills shortage extends from specialist quantitative, mathematical and investment skills, to sales and distribution skills, to management, and beyond,” explains Len Deacon author of INSETA’s latest skills development research report.

The education systems of the world are often held responsible for failing to produce graduates capable of functioning in the modern workforce. Schools and tertiary institutions are perceived as out of sync with the industry needs, and are still locked into producing graduates with a narrow, specialist perspective, and limited capacity to think outside the box. The education system has a pivotal role to play in preparing learners for the work environment. However, The Department of Education in South Africa acknowledges that, school education standards have deteriorated to the point that matric exemption doesn’t necessarily imply even functional literacy, while university graduates take up to 18 months in the workplace to become productive.

Researchers agree that private sector involvement is key to overcoming the skills crisis in South Africa and elsewhere. Programmes that begin developing young people through a wide range of interventions are essential to ensuring a pool of the kind of employees the industry needs to survive and compete.”

STANLIB – a case study

As one of the largest investment managers in South Africa, STANLIB attracts a wide variety of professional and technical staff.  In addition to employing experienced individuals, the organisation also runs a number of training and development programmes to build skills within the investment industry.
This includes programmes that focus on up skilling unemployed youth, as well as existing staff. Those aimed at unemployed youth include:- The Graduate Learnership  Programme, the FSC Learnership Programme, Bursary Sponsorship Programme and Scholarship Programme.

Nosipho Ndamase, STANLIB Skills Development Programme Manager explains, ”Our graduates display good theoretical knowledge, and we select the brightest of students who have excelled academically. However, practical, hands on skills often need to be honed as graduates often join us with no prior corporate experience.”

To ensure STANLIB”s graduates are best-placed to shine in the workplace, they are placed on a ‘Work Readiness’ course. This practical training session equips them with the necessary skills to excel in a corporate environment.

This includes things like codes of conduct, how to present themselves to be marketable for employment, communication skills, team-work and confidence building.

Ndamase says, “At STANLIB we are passionate about developing our graduates and take pride in teaching them skills and enabling their development. We are happy with our success rate, and the employment rate of our graduates is very high.”

Another aspect of STANLIB’s skills development is their mentorship programme, which they take very seriously, because they believe in it so passionately. Each of their graduates is assigned a mentor to train and coach them.

Ndamase adds, “Having a mentor to look up to and learn from is an invaluable experience that helps to shape the careers of our graduates and give them a role model to aspire to.”

To plug the skills gap and to bolster their business and investment acumen, STANLIB also offers full qualifications on financial markets and instruments, as well as a range of induction courses.

“We are also very grateful to have such a committed partner in INSETA, who have enabled us to provide more training opportunities to our graduates and employed staff members to open the world of opportunity to them. We are able to invest in our people and build our talent pool, and contribute to the success of our nation,” concludes Ndamase.

INSETA’s purpose is to grow the pool and quality of scarce and critical skills in the insurance sector, enhancing the sector and supporting the country’s transformation.
INSETA is managed by Sandra Dunn, Chief Executive Officer

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