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GENRIC’s investment into learnerships and internships pays dividends

GENRIC’s investment into learnerships and internships pays dividends
16-08-23 / Chris Smit

GENRIC’s investment into learnerships and internships pays dividends

Johannesburg - South Africa faces a unique dilemma – a high unemployment rate, alarmingly at almost 50% among the youth¹, and yet a shortage of skilled and qualified people to fill positions in many industries – like the insurance sector for one. It's an industry where technology and AI, evolving consumer needs, emerging new risks and regulatory demands are driving transformation, and with it the skills demands are changing rapidly too.

"The reality is that as risks evolve and become more complex, the demand for innovative insurance products as well as advice is growing exponentially, but the skills pipeline of young new talent is simply not filling up fast enough. It's a South African anomaly where we have such alarmingly high unemployment numbers on one hand, yet serious skills shortages on the other. There is a mismatch of skills between what is taught at higher and tertiary education level versus what is needed by industry, as well as a lack of practical work experience. Employers want people to walk in and hit the ground running, but to do that young people need a practical learning ground to gain meaningful and valued on-the-job experience and especially mentorship," explains Melanie du Plessis, Head of Human Capital at GENRIC Insurance Company Limited (GENRIC).

To bridge the gap between the skills needed in the business and industry, and the lack of practical work experience that so many young people find themselves hamstrung by, GENRIC invests significantly into unemployed learnerships, and collaborates with educational institutions like Ekurhuleni West College (EWC) to provide internships for young people to gain new skills, NQF qualifications, and invaluable workplace experience.

Learnerships and Internships: Building a Skilled Workforce

"An unemployed learnership program in partnership with The Graduate Institute of Financial Sciences (GIFS), is GENRIC's cornerstone initiative aimed at equipping young individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the insurance industry and get an NQF-recognised qualification. Upon completion of the learnership, candidates attain a Short-term Insurance qualification, providing them with a strong foundation to pursue a career in insurance. GENRIC also supports learners in writing their Regulatory Examination to meet the Fit & Proper requirements mandated by insurance industry regulators. This not only empowers learners, but also ensures that they meet the necessary criteria for various roles within the insurance sector, whether that is within GENRIC, or the broader insurance market," explains Melanie.

"Our collaboration with Ekurhuleni West College has also proven instrumental in building a pipeline of new talent by ensuring that learners get the real-world, on-the-job practical experience that employers so highly value. These internships typically last for 18 months and at GENRIC we ensure that they get to actively participate in various aspects of the insurance value chain – from product development to underwriting to claims management to customer service and more.  The internship program is tailored to meet the specific requirements of each learner's respective diplomas, ensuring they receive relevant and practical experience aligned with their respective logbooks. Key in this partnership with Ekurhuleni West College is to foster a deeper understanding of insurance practices and a passion for the risk industry among young people," adds Melanie.

Absorption of the learners into permanent roles once they have completed their learnership is the ultimate goal - GENRIC has provided permanent jobs for eight of the nine learners, effective from 1 September.  

Benefits for employer and learners

It's an approach that GENRIC says has paid dividends many times over.  "Firstly, we get to work with and nurture young talent who bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, especially when it comes to their adaptability to emerging technologies and changing customer preferences - which is critically important if we are to compete in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Secondly, properly trained and skilled young professionals contribute to increased productivity. It's also strategically important in terms of developing our succession plan from within the business. Finally, attracting young talent from diverse backgrounds also means we get to nurture an inclusive and dynamic workplace, where everyone's unique perspectives are valued and contribute to the business direction and strategy. Finally, and most importantly, we get to nurture and attract a new generation of insurance professionals looking to embark on rewarding and challenging careers in the insurance industry," she adds.

Fundamentally for GENRIC, this is about bringing young people onto the employment ladder and into solid career and employment trajectories in a country where almost 70% of the employable youth population are sitting without jobs and opportunities.  "Investing in learnerships, internships and providing employment for trained learners once they have completed their studies is one of the most rewarding and strategically important things we have done for our business, our economy, society, and especially, the young people who find meaningful and rewarding careers in risk and insurance," she concludes.

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