Airmic welcomed 39 university students to its annual conference this year, in a first for the association. A mix of undergraduates and postgraduates were invited from the six universities Airmic is partnering in its Growing the Profession initiative, all of which offer risk and insurance or related degrees.
Airmic put the "youth agenda" firmly under the spotlight 12 months ago, after last year's chairman Clive Clarke warned that the insurance and risk professions need to do more to attract young talent or risk losing relevance.
In his opening speech at the conference, Clarke said he was thrilled to welcome the students. "How many times have you ever heard a student or graduate say they want a career in risk management?" he asked. "Probably never. As a career, risk and insurance are dynamic, challenging, well paid and varied - yet its image, especially among young people, is worlds apart from that."
Students were given their own conference agenda, including welcome drinks, networking opportunities and a series of career-related talks from a range of insurers and brokers. They were also free to attend the workshops and seminars.
Joshua Eaton, an accounting and finance student at Exeter University, said the conference had far exceeded expectations: "Insurance and risk are perceived as fairly dull and are definitely in the shadow of banking as careers, but these three days have completely transformed my image of them. I had no idea there were so many difference aspects to risk and I'll definitely consider this as a future career."
Josh Weston, an economics student from Exeter, agreed, and said the conference had showed risk in a new light. "As an economics student, I'm used to seeing risk in a very theoretical way. Coming here shows you what's really happening now, and how relevant it all is. I have found hearing about the intangible aspect of risk particularly fascinating."
Voy Wadwickz-Stankowski, a law student, also at Exeter University, said he knew very little about the field of risk management before he attended the conference. "It has been great. Everyone has been so welcoming. The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed which as a newcomer is important."
Kin Ly, Airmic's research and development manager, hosted the students and said she was thrilled by their enthusiasm and feedback. "Their responses have been so positive. Many have said that their view of the risk and insurance industry has changed and that they weren't previously aware of the depth and diversity of career opportunities, or how social and fun the industry is. They really seemed excited by the prospect of a career in risk or insurance which is all we can ask for."
Ly said it was such a success that they plan to invite more students next year. "The students got a lot out of it and we really are giving something back to the profession. We know there's a talent gap and the best way to improve and sustain engagement with students is to demonstrate just what the industry is about."
Through its Growing the Profession initiative, Airmic is partnering the following universities: University of Southampton Business School, City Business School, Cranfield School of Management, University of Nottingham Business School, Glasgow School for Business and Society and University of Exeter Business School.
As well as offering places at Airmic conferences and events, students will be given access to the association's technical output and thought leadership, and offered mentoring opportunities and the chance to meet students and young professionals in the same field.