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70% of insurance CEOs see skills shortage as a threat to growth

29/03/16 09:55 / by The Insurance Institute

The Insurance Institute



Attracting and retaining appropriate talent is a huge challenge for 70% of insurance CEOs globally, according to PWC’s Annual CEO Survey. This figure remains steady with previous years and is likely to grow with specialist skills becoming more in demand as technologies advance.

Despite this challenge, organisations are slow to change their talent strategy to attract, retain and engage the right candidates to remain competitive. In fact, the survey found that less than a quarter of insurance CEOs are changing the way they manage talent to ensure they can fill their skills shortages.

Irish insurance companies in particular are feeling the effects of this trend. Last year, the Deloitte Talent in Insurance Survey found that the popularity of insurance as a career choice in Ireland was the fifth lowest in 21 EMEA countries surveyed and that organisations were finding it particularly difficult to attract women into the industry – despite industry drives to promote a career in insurance to women and nurture existing female talent.

There are plenty of key takeaways from the PwC report in a number of areas, but here are the most important for addressing talent shortages in the industry.


Attracting a younger generation

A key threat to the insurance industry is the ageing workforce and lack of ability to attract younger generations. Millennials are known for their tendency to be attracted towards careers that offer stimulation, flexibility and career advancement – all of which exist in the insurance industry, but aren’t being broadcasted enough.

The report recommends that in order to attract this cohort, insurance organisations must ensure that their values and culture match the expectations of younger generations who are entering the workforce.


Emerging skills gaps

The CEO survey uncovered a number of areas that are posing challenges to insurance companies worldwide; the most prominent of which is the rapid advancement of technology. This is in response to rising consumer expectations, however the report found that companies are not fully utilising new technologies or sources of data to make the most of client touchpoints and improve customer experiences.

In addition, customers look to insurance companies to help them manage emerging risks associated with the Internet of Things, cyber risk and uncertain business landscapes and insurers need to be ready for this. New underwriting technologies can allow agents and brokers to spend more time developing customised solutions for more complex and higher value accounts – but it is vital that companies employ talent with the necessary skills to make this possible.


Solutions to skills shortages

53% of insurance CEOs globally cited a focus on the pipeline of leaders for the future as a key priority in their drive for talent. However, turnover rate within many insurance organisations is at an all-time high, making this priority even more difficult to achieve.

If traditional insurance organisations don’t step up to address talent shortages, other more dynamic and technologically savvy organisations will step in. The Irish government has recognised the importance of addressing the talent crisis, by approving the development of a professional apprenticeship programme that is due to launch in September this year.

The apprenticeship meets not only current skills needs, but addresses many of the new competencies required for the emerging needs of the workplace. It will also help to build employee loyalty, reducing turnover in businesses in the long term.


Read the full PWC report here.


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