“Best of both worlds” – How apprentices are earning, learning and skipping the struggle of student life
With the availability of skilled workers now seen as a key challenge for the insurance industry, firms are turning to apprenticeships as a fresh way to nurture and develop talent.
The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship offers participants the chance to ‘earn and learn’ – working a full-time salaried position with an insurance employer while studying for their degree.
Ireland’s first degree-level apprenticeship, the programme has 100 places on offer this year.
‘Bright, ambitious, committed’
Dr Marc Sweeney, Director at Thornton and Partners said the scheme offers a new way to attract “bright, ambitious and committed people” – with participants automatically stealing a jump on their rivals.
“I don’t think there’s any question; an apprentice will have acquired actual experience – three years more than the traditional graduate – so that automatically puts them in a better position,” he said.
“That’s not to denigrate the traditional degree – but you can understand the employer will always select the person with the credentials and the experience.”
The three-year apprenticeship combines on-the-job learning with online study through the Insurance Institute and IT Sligo.
Aloise Robinson, now in her second year of the programme at Aiken Insurances, said the chance to work towards a first-class degree while also earning a salary meant applying for the apprenticeship, “really was a no-brainer.”
“A lot of my friends are in college and struggling with the cost of living etc. so I’m very conscious of how lucky I am to get the best of both worlds,” she said.
“It means I can concentrate all my efforts on work and study without the added pressure of worrying about finances.
“If you’re very focused, determined and interested in the industry, you can do really well – and earning whilst learning is such a wonderful alternative.”
“In at the deep end”
She said entering the industry straight after her Leaving Cert was a “steep learning curve.”
“Sometimes it’s good to be thrown in at the deep end,” she said. “And I had great support from my employer, so that definitely made the transition much easier.”
“Already over the past two years I’ve learned so much and I can’t quite believe how much I’ve progressed in this short space of time.
“I think nothing beats real work experience – there are things that you just can’t be taught in school or college and which you will only learn once you’re out there in the real world.”
“Being able to recruit people who are either changing career, returning to a career or starting their career and beginning them on an apprenticeship is another way to attract bright, ambitious and committed employees,” he said.
“In other words, this is about creating a viable and sustainable pipeline of high quality and educated people.”
If you are an employer interested in hiring an apprentice, or if you’re a prospective apprentice interested to learn more, you should log on to EarnAndLearn.ie