At the official inauguration of Darryl Grater as the new President of the Insurance Institute of Gauteng (IIG), the IIG announced the continuation of the recognised IIG Academic Programme, in partnership with the Graduate Institute of Financial Sciences (GIFS).
The programme, launched in February last year, sponsors individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to acquire the skills necessary for employment in the insurance industry. Last year the programme saw 1 200 applicants, from which 15 were selected to complete the National Certificate in Short-term Insurance (NQF5) at Wits University. The course was designed by GIFS and is fully compliant with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA).
As a testament to the success of the programme, 13 individuals graduated in 2019 and each one was subsequently employed in the insurance industry. “All graduates received multiple job offers from various insurers and brokerages, and these were individuals who had entered the industry with no prior insurance experience, with many also having no work experience whatsoever. Today they work at respected companies, such as Marsh, Genric, MiWay and Santam, as portfolio managers and data analysts, among other positions,” says Kershen Pillay, CEO of GIFS.
Action by enabling
The IIG Academic Programme was established against the backdrop of South Africa’s staggering unemployment rate, particularly among the South African youth, for which the unemployment rate is more than 50%.
As part of the programme, the successful candidates are groomed for employment with IIG insurance partners. “It is an extremely emotive exercise, especially considering that we get more than a thousand applicants every year, which again highlights the unemployment issue, but also affirms that these types of initiatives need to replicate and scale in SA,” says Grater.
Pillay says quality education enables social mobility and reduces inequality. “Educational institutions, associations and professional bodies in South Africa must all mobilise in the development of human capital,” he says. “This collaboration with the IIG is a perfect example of what we can achieve with these programmes.”
“The industry’s need for education is evident, now more than ever. With an older average age in the industry and a concern that knowledge transfer is not being optimised, institutes like the IIG play a pivotal role in the enablement of insurance talent. We can achieve this by facilitating various education and enablement platforms with a strong transformation-focused standard,” Grater says.
GIFS leverages these tools and other financial incentive schemes available to help grow the insurance sector through education. The institute does this by educating insurers and financial institutes on how to utilise these funding vehicles for maximum impact, Pillay explains. “We apply our expertise and use advances in technology to help grow the industry by upskilling individuals for the jobs of the future,” he says. “By investing in human capital, the South African insurance industry can become a global player.”
Says Grater, “Organisations like GIFS provide platforms in the financial services sector through which education gaps can be bridged, and where education can be made practical and applicable to the market. This enables students to hit the ground running and add immediate value to the organisations who employ them.”
The financial services industry offers multiple opportunities for prospective employees entering the industry and those already in the industry looking to progress their career, says Pillay. “The sector offers multiple occupational specialisations and is a feeder industry covering multiple sectors,” he concludes.