ABL Academy Tackles Insurance Industry Skills Challenge

Staff go ‘back to school’ to earn qualifications and boost career potential

As one of Northern Ireland’s leading insurance brokers, we have come up with a unique way of tackling industry skills shortages – by starting up their own Academy.

We employ 120 people across six branches and have set up the ABL Academy to offer staff the chance to achieve Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Certificate and Diploma levels.  Twelve members of staff of all ages are currently committed to undertaking a two-year mixed module course at our headquarters in Belfast.  The training - two days a month in the classroom augmented by personal study – is being delivered by the Insurance Training Partnership of Manchester.

Siobhan McAuley, ABL Group Executive Director has responsibility for training and development.  She explained:

“Recruitment is difficult as there is a real shortage of qualified and experienced people in the insurance industry, not just in Northern Ireland but across the UK.  The sector has undergone many fundamental changes over the last couple of decades - including centralisation, the rise of online competition and the challenges of new technologies – all of which have contributed to staffing issues.

“In the past, students could access the knowledge they needed through dedicated college courses, but that all disappeared years ago. Nowadays, people have little choice but to qualify individually under their own steam – and often at their own expense.

“From our perspective, it makes sense to grow our own pool of talent by investing in people with potential who are, in turn, willing to invest in their own future. ABL Academy gives staff the chance to increase their skills and maximise their career opportunities at no cost to themselves and with lots of hands-on support.”

Martyn Watson, Chartered Insurance Practitioner at the Insurance Training Partnership, the UK’s leading provider of dedicated and specialist training for the insurance industry is proud to team up with ABL Group on this initiative. He said:

"We are delighted to be involved in this truly unique joint venture in Northern Ireland and proud to be helping ABL to achieve their goals.  Over the past nine years ITP has been working across the island of Ireland delivering technical training programmes and Fast Track qualification programmes for brokers who take part in the Allianz Learning Partnership.”

The Insurance Institute of Northern Ireland is the local branch of the professional body. IINI President Ashley Murphy said:

“We all know that education matters as a strategic investment for the future, not only for the students but for the profession as a whole.  This is a fabulous commitment from ABL Group, giving each participant understanding, support and encouragement when it is needed. Without that support, the path would doubtlessly be more difficult - and perhaps less well-trodden. 

My theme for the year is ‘Make a Difference’ and, collectively, ABL and these students have chosen to make a difference to their education, career, peers, family and employer.  In Northern Ireland we have a professional and competent marketplace where continued professional development is actively encouraged and supported by our Masterclass Series, workshops and the IINI Council."

ABL Group provide tailored insurance cover for corporate, commercial, motor trade and personal customers from branches in Armagh, Banbridge, Belfast, Coleraine, Downpatrick and Newry.