The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, one of Irelands top apprenticeship programmes, has managed to emerge from the pandemic largely unscathed, thanks to a collection of future-thinking policies that were already in place.
In the last few years, there has been a surge in the popularity and demand for apprenticeships across all business sectors in Ireland. The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is one of Ireland's top apprenticeship programmes. It was set up in 2016 as Ireland's first degree level apprenticeship and served to recruit new talent for the insurance sector.
Today, a place on The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is one of the most sought after in the country as it offers participants the unique opportunity to 'earn and learn' – gaining real work experience whilst earning a salary and working towards their third level degree (BA Hons in Insurance Practice). Businesses also benefit from the programme as they are offered the chance to bring on board a highly ambitious employee who is truly committed to forging a career for themselves within the industry.
However, the workplaces we once knew have all endured great difficulties and change over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a challenge for all industries and the insurance sector is no exception. Business have had to adapt and adjust to this new world, updating strategies and policies to allow for more flexible and hybrid work situations.
While this has been a time of great challenge for most, apprenticeships like The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship have gone largely unaffected. Newstalk caught up with Paula Hodson, Director of Development Services and Education at The Insurance Institute to learn more about the policies that made this stability possible:
- Remote learning in partnership with IT Sligo: Since its inception the apprenticeship has been run in partnership with IT Sligo and so the entire academic element has always taken place online. This is one of the more critical aspects of the programme and is in fact what makes it sustainable. Apprentices work four days per week for the insurance employer, with one day then devoted to their remote academic learning and lectures which are streamed via IT Sligo, who are leaders in this area of remote learning.
- Remote onboarding: Prior to the pandemic, apprentices were traditionally hired and on-boarded in person. In response to this new virtual aspect of the process, the team at The Insurance Institute developed a guide – ‘On-boarding in a Virtual World’ – which contains everything employers need to know, with advice on everything from welcome packs, to how to conduct online introductions to other team members, and the importance of mentorship. Of course, the team are also on hand to provide support and advice as needed.
- Study support: The Insurance Institute has long provided the apprentices with a wide range of online study supports, which are frequently invested in to improve student’s engagement with supports at entry level. During the pandemic when apprentices have been working and studying from home all the time these supports became even more valuable. Some of the supports offered include online tuition sessions, Quitch (gamification app designed to enhance learning), mock exams, past papers and access to an extensive online library full of useful resources for the apprentices.
Speaking about these practices, Ms Hodson said: "From speaking with many employers it struck me that despite the pandemic and the challenges we’ve all faced, one thing has remained the same – when hiring an apprentice the employer needs to look at how they can provide them with the support needed to help them build a successful and sustainable career within the industry."
If you would like to learn more about The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, visit: www.earnandlearn.ie. Recruitment for the 2021 programme is currently underway.