27 Sept 2022

Donegal locals graduate from Ireland’s first insurance apprenticeship

Donegal locals James Carr and Keara McGlinchey graduated last week from The Insurance Institute’s first ever Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship

Donegal locals graduate from Ireland’s first insurance apprenticeship

Donegal locals James Carr (First Ireland) and Keara McGlinchey (Hickey Clarke & Langan), graduates of The Insurance Institute’s Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, at their graduation ceremony

After three years of studying and on-the-job training, Donegal locals James Carr and Keara McGlinchey graduated last week from The Insurance Institute’s first ever Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship.

They along with 31 other apprentices from all over Ireland, graduated at an awards ceremony in IT Sligo.

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is the first of its kind in Ireland and the first apprenticeship to award a Level 8 honours degree. It is delivered by The Insurance Institute in partnership with IT Sligo and LIA, and supported by SOLAS and the HEA through funding.

Apprentices gain their qualifications through a three-year programme of distance learning and on-the-job experience in insurance companies. Apprentices receive professional qualifications after both their first and second year, graduating with a degree following their third year.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in IT Sligo, Dermot Murray, CEO of The Insurance Institute, said they knew from their members that employers in the insurance industry had been struggling to hire talent and, often, once they hire new employees, they were struggling to retain them.

"While apprenticeships have long been associated with the trade and craft industries, three years ago, we adapted the apprenticeship model to the insurance industry, and it has been hugely successful so far. I congratulate all those graduating this week. They are Ireland’s first ever cohort of graduates from this insurance industry apprenticeship.”

According to The Insurance Institute, there are multiple benefits to the insurance practitioner apprenticeship, including:

- The programme is open to everyone - school-leavers, graduates, and people who may be considering a career change, but want and need to earn while studying;
- The programme combines distance learning with practical, on-the-job experience, so apprentices can participate from anywhere in the country;
- Apprentices are paid a salary in line with standard industry entry-level salaries;
- For employers, apprenticeships are an organic way to grow a diverse workforce, by attracting school leavers, graduates and career changers;
- Apprenticeships are also a cost-effective way for insurance companies to recruit and train new employees as the academic programme is funded by the Government; and
- They are a useful learning and development route for existing employees, who supervise and assist the apprentices throughout the programme, leading to a much higher pass rate.

One of the companies involved in developing the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is Zurich.

Commenting on their experiences, Julie Toner, head of talent acquisition at Zurich, said the beauty of the apprenticeship model was that new recruits could earn and learn at the same time.

"Their studies are combined with their practical work, and they can apply what they are learning ‘on the job’ every day, helping to embed the knowledge a lot quicker. In our experience, apprenticeships are a really attractive and flexible proposition for people considering a career in the insurance industry.

"It has definitely helped us in recruiting talented people to join our team and it is why we worked so hard with The Insurance Institute at the start to get this programme over the line,” he said.

Further information on the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is available at:

Employers interested in taking on an apprentice can find out more by contacting The Insurance Institute on (01) 6456600.

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