Apprenticeships – shaping the future of our business

Not everyone is aware that apprenticeships are available in the financial services sector but at RSA, we were one of the first to recognise their benefits – and it was not long before our apprentices were getting recognised themselves too. Step forward RSA’s Beth McNeil, officially the Insurance Times Awards Apprentice of the Year!

It is a sad fact that youth unemployment in the UK currently sits at 12% with no sign of it falling below 10% before 2020. Getting a job is tough and the expense puts higher education out of reach for many. Even securing a university place is no guarantee of your dream job with over half of UK graduates currently unable to find appropriate roles.

So I was absolutely thrilled to be offered an apprenticeship by RSA. Although I admit, growing up I did not lie awake at night dreaming of becoming an underwriter! Now I’m here, though, I love it.

Apprentice schemes give young people the chance to gain on-the-job training and skills without a university education and the associated debt. They are good for UK businesses too, generating an estimated £1.8 billion of net economic benefits.

We accept between five and seven new apprentices every year at RSA, right across the UK. I joined in September 2013, two years after our first apprentices, and quickly gained my certificate in insurance. I am currently working towards my diploma.

Each year, my fellow apprentices and I are placed in different roles. I am a Profin Trading Underwriter in Commercial, specialising in crime. This means I help identify potential new customers who might benefit from our fraud and data security protection cover.

One of the great things about being an apprentice at RSA is having the opportunity to make a real difference. For example, I developed a Commercial Crime product campaign, identifying which brokers we should approach, that helped us win over 90% of the new business in my team during 2015.

There was, of course, one huge highlight in my past year. Seven apprentices, including myself, entered the Insurance Times Apprenticeships Live event, where we worked with others on a task and presented our approach to the judging panel. Incredibly, out of the 13 finalists chosen, five of them were from RSA, which speaks volumes about the quality of our people.

We were then invited to the Insurance Times Awards, hosted by David Walliams, to hear the overall winner announced in person.

“And the winner is… Beth McNeil!” It was such a great feeling to hear my name called out. I am so proud to have been recognised for my work and the skills RSA has helped me attain.

Now I am working hard to earn my diploma in insurance and am looking forward to becoming more involved in supporting this year’s intake of apprentices, playing my part in developing the next wave of young talent at RSA.