April 2011

Insurance sector faces shortage of skills


The managing director of South West general insurer Cornish Mutual fears there is a shortage of skilled professionals looking to work in the insurance industry.

Alan Goddard, who heads up the company which has nearly 22,000 Members in the region, believes more can be done to make the sector a more attractive career choice, “I think we need to educate people so that they understand that it can be very satisfying with salary and skills development delivering long-term rewards.

“I think, as an industry, we need to communicate that insurance is not stuffy and boring but that we do offer attractive career opportunities at all levels,” he adds.

In the past Cornish Mutual, which has offices in Exeter and Truro and nearly 22,000 Members across the South West, has had difficulties finding people with the broad analytical skills for development work.

Mr Goddard says, “Although it’s a problem that affects the whole sector, we want to grow the business by bringing new skilled professionals in, as well as developing the talent that we already have within the company.

“It’s hard to attract good-quality people to work in the insurance industry in the Westcountry unless they’re already looking for a change of lifestyle, rather than for career reasons.”

Cornish Mutual is looking to start graduate placements within the company in the near future and is also working with learning providers to develop its own, in-house staff development scheme.

The company currently employs around 70 people and Alan Goddard believes one of the factors that will help with future growth is the insurance industry securing talented individuals.

“There is a desire for Cornish Mutual to grow over the next few years and we want to recruit locally wherever possible. We don’t want to start losing people who might have been born, raised and educated in the South West who then choose, for whatever reason, to leave the region and work elsewhere.”

He explains that the insurer is in a unique position because it’s the only general insurance firm to be based in the South West and still has Inspectors meeting and dealing with Members face-to-face.

“We need good people who like dealing with real people – our business is very much customer facing and although we’re using new technology and automated processes, there is no substitute for that one-to-one level of service.”

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