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Insurance — a future employer of choice

The world is going through a period of rapid change. From globalisation to digital disruption to a shift in consumer expectation, the way businesses respond to the dramatic changes sweeping through entire industries will determine their longevity. Insurance, an industry known for its capacity for risk mitigation and the bedrock behind every economy, is not immune to the revolution currently taking place.

For many, this idea of disruption comes from technological advancement and the savvy start-ups best able to harness its potential, but according to a report by Deloitte, a form of disruption that most are failing to address is the fundamental change in the workforce and labour market.

‘Two-thirds of those with less than five years’ experience (early-career Australians) expect that their job will not exist, or will fundamentally change, in the next 15 years,’ says the report. If true, this means industries like insurance will need to prepare for the workforce of the future.

In 2014, research by ANZIIF found that around 40% of the insurance industry believed that a skills shortage exists in the industry, with many believing it is worse than in other parts of the economy.

It’s something that Nathan Bradley, Talent Acquisition Manager at IAG New Zealand, agrees is a problem but believes is one we can overcome. Bradley argues that insurance needs to look beyond its borders and find talent in diverse and varied industries.

‘Insurance is certainly not alone in dealing with a shortage of skills — we see and hear this across multiple industries,’ says Bradley. ‘It has become more evident now as many insurers are looking to ramp up offerings such as online products/digitisation for customers, something that many consumer-driven businesses are doing as well. I think one option to address this is to be open to hiring talent from outside of insurance to ensure we stay competitive and agile as an industry.’

As organisations increasingly look at gaining efficiencies, skills shortages are becoming far more common. According to Deloitte, students only ranked insurance as 18 out of 30 as a possible career path, suggesting that skills shortage is set to widen. But that may not be the full story.

A recent ANZIIF study of insurance professionals under the age of 35, found that 86.7% of respondents would recommend insurance as a career choice. A recruitment professional for the better part of a decade, Bradley believes this type of goodwill is something the insurance industry can harness to attract the talent of tomorrow.

‘I think the industry needs better promotion within schools and universities,’ he says. ‘For example, IAG has a revamped graduate programme which has been very well received in the market. We need to ensure everyone in the industry is constantly looking at ways to attract and retain young talent, while also ensuring we retain and utilise the skills and experience that already exists within the industry to help foster this new generation.’

Bradley says that the industry needs to look for young people who are nimble and adaptable as they are better equipped to cope with the rising tide of change that is threatening to overwhelm us.

‘When I’m hiring someone, I look for particular qualities. One thing that stands out is agility — people who have the right attributes and skills to lend themselves to different types of situations are resilient in the face of change,’ he adds.

‘For an industry like ours, there is a huge benefit in hiring young people,’ he says. ‘A younger demographic brings freshness of thought and increases our relevance to the customers of tomorrow. It sets the industry up for the future.’