A version of the following article – part one in an ongoing series – first appeared in Post Magazine. It traces the career development paths of two fictional insurance sector recruits.
Will Woodman recently joined Reading-based commercial insurance brokers Strobes Ingliss Norton as a graduate trainee. Despite a disappointing 2.2 in Geography from the University of Surrey, Will impressed at interview and was offered a position with Strobes just three weeks after the end of his final term. He skipped his graduation ceremony, put a down payment on a car and started looking for a flatshare with a school friend working nearby.
Dawn Crowley left school with 10 GCSEs including two A*s and four As. Keen to begin earning money, she then spent a frustrating six months looking for work before finally being offered a role with the Birmingham office of insurers Jervis Dixon, better known by their direct brand name of kwalityinsurance.
Will and Dawn both spend their first few weeks getting acquainted with their new employers’ operations. For Will, the introduction is a little gentler. Senior manager Jerry Dalton finds time to walk him round the firm’s Reading head office, making introductions and explaining what all the different teams do. Following a chat with Strobes’ training manager, Will is booked in to attend two CII Broker Academy training workshops within three months of joining.
The first, an Introduction to Insurance, takes place in Reading. The second is an introductory level course on Commercial Insurance, for which Will takes the train to Bristol with a colleague. He also begins studying towards the CII’s Certificate in Insurance. His initial work duties focus on supporting the firm’s commercial property team. Meanwhile his charming easy-going manner helps him make friends among his new colleagues.
As a GCSE school leaver Dawn is encouraged to start working towards the CII’s basic Foundation Insurance Test. Her introduction to the world of insurance is a little more abrupt. She spends her first morning reading a handbook for new recruits, has a brief induction session at her team manager’s desk, and spends an afternoon shadowing a colleague. On day two she’s taking live calls, learning from her own mistakes, sporadic mentoring, and the occasional mild reprimand. Two weeks in, Dawn feels fully confident handling inbound calls to a largely scripted formula.
Jervis Dixon’s approach to training relies heavily on an online e-learning system white-labeled as JD Knowledge Zone. Dawn is given a log-in during her second week on the job and asked to begin with a module on household insurance. She is tasked with passing the end-of-course test within 30 days, studying at her own pace. She completes it on her laptop at home within two days. She is also learning fast on the job, and quickly becomes one of the most effective members of her team – a fact that has not escaped the attention of her supervisors.
For Will, however, with the first part of his CII Certificate examinations approaching, more troubled waters lie ahead.
To be continued…