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Analysis: Tackling the Skills Shortage

posted on Nov 9
As skills needed by employer’s change, there is naturally a shortage of new skills that have become more important for businesses. The the insurance industry is facing a huge skills shortage,

with employers struggling to find ways to attract and retain top talent, but this is not specific to insurance: while businesses have always competed for the best talent, they find themselves increasingly competing on a broader level, beyond their direct competitors or similar industries.

The insurance industry is looking for the same skills and talents as many other sectors such as digital skills etc. and, therefore, sourcing experienced candidates is highly competitive in these areas.

New talent

For many brokerages, the answer to ensuring their workforces are equipped with digital skills lies in engaging people while they are young: not a ground-breaking approach, but one which has become more difficult.  You can’t just run a recruitment campaign these days.  These all have to be longstanding relationships that will take up a lot of time.  You want people to say; I could come here because I know them, they have been into my school, or my college, or my university.

To that end, IBANB has worked with local colleges and universities to improve awareness and availability of positions available in the insurance sector.  Neat eh!

The learners could be either internal or external recruits and while they are studying on their program, they will rotate around different areas in departments and see where their skills best fit.

The digital revolution has changed not only the skills an employee needs but also the wants and needs of customers. This is another area in which IBANB hopes looking to members of Generation Z will prove fruitful, YBN is on this!

The approach also serves to show off the insurance sector in all its breadth, beyond the preconceptions potential future employees might have!

Hard market skills

The introduction of new technologies is not the only thing that can leave a workforce high and dry in the skills department if proper training is not in place - the insurance industry’s hard-and-soft market cycle also presents challenges.

The market is changing, and the younger staff will not have been exposed to that before.  Brokers that have entered and cut their teeth in the market since around 2005 will not have necessarily been exposed to the kind of hardening market they are dealing with.

IBANB has personally been running what we call ‘Raise the Bar’ sessions in our office every month, where we’re addressing soft skill-type issues, which is about preparation for negotiation skills that support us when we’re connecting with brokers in a hard market.  We are also making sure it is proper on – the - job support, increasing education options, and flexibility with our online learning options. 

Lifelong learning

Building the skills of existing employees is another focus of brokerages, particularly because of concerns around retaining hard-won talent.

If you understand new technology platforms and you understand the customer experience, you become quite mobile and can move beyond basic services. 

It is not all about new starters.  Continuing learning and development is incredibly important, and we pride ourselves on the range of options available to member brokers.  This includes a range of workshops, webinars, and online learning.  While employees are continually upskilling and robust succession planning is in place, it is a case of expertise, rather than age being the important factor. 

Insurance as an industry has a perception problem: the societal good we do is not well recognized, and we all need to do more to get those messages out to the talent we want to attract.  Attracting those people is challenging as they are in high demand from most industries.  By using social media and young ambassadors from the market we are reaching out to schools and colleges and talking about the variety of roles and careers on offer.

On the flip side, we also need to ensure that the market is receptive to diverse talent at all levels in organizations, as when we attract new and diverse talent, we need to make sure we keep it.

There is a less negative perception of the insurance industry than in the past, and we are finding there is increased fluidity with people joining the industry from different backgrounds.  Generally, the majority of people who move into insurance find it more fulfilling than other sectors they have worked in, and then they expected looking from the outside in.

We are also attracting people from completely different sectors who want to stay doing what they are doing, for example, sales, but move into the insurance industry.

Let us keep talking YBN!! 

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