Where is there a potential skills shortfall in insurance hiring?

Where is there a potential skills shortfall in insurance hiring? | Insurance Business

Where is there a potential skills shortfall in insurance hiring?

Life insurance claims consultants and underwriters are two of the professions ‘under the spotlight’ and experiencing a skills shortfall in new recruits, says recruitment specialist Hays plc.

“Australia faces a massive talent gap in 2020, with skill shortages continuing to plague financial services and a growing talent mismatch between the skills employers need and those jobseekers possess,” the firm recently announced, in an in-depth report looking at the year ahead.

Insurance Business reported last month on the ‘difficulty of finding fresh faces’ where Mandy Cooper, director at CPR Insurance Services, explained the trouble in finding suitable young recruits to bring into the industry. She outlined that the sector is struggling to attract fresh, well-trained staff equipped with the tools necessary to deal with what the industry throws at you.

“There is a lack of younger staff coming through the system – and a lack of traineeships out there,” Cooper said. “Traineeships and cadetships – where are they and what’s happened to them?”

Now the report by Hays has detailed the specific roles within the insurance industry that are facing a potential skills shortage, with limited numbers of suitable candidates.

Claims consultants in the life insurance space are in high demand, but facing a potential skills shortage fuelled by the Banking Royal Commission and the increase in risk and compliance teams.

“In previous years, many life insurers focused on replacing departing staff rather than growing their headcount - this trend is changing as companies expand existing teams in response to an increase in the number of physical and psychological claims,” Hays announced. This new increased demand may not be matched in the talent on offer.

Underwriters are also becoming highly sought after within the industry. Hays’ findings note that underwriting firms are placing greater importance on employees and candidates who can develop strong relationships with brokers and who possess strong soft skills, specifically in the communication sphere.

“As the market becomes more competitive, employers require underwriters who can develop lasting relationships with brokers who work in their speciality area,” reported Hays. “Technically sound candidates are still available, but underwriting agencies very rarely match their salary expectations.”

Additionally, Hays noted that market trends and shifts in 2020 will have an impact on recruitment in insurance. On a practical level, there have been a number of catastrophic natural events occurring in Australia already this year, from bushfires to hail and flood. Logistically, with the amount of claims these events produce, workload inevitably goes up – stretching the workforce thin. Insurance Business spoke to a leading insurer last week who corroborated this and explained that they had to hire hundreds more staff in the last two months to deal with the increased workload. But as Hays noted, industry-wide these may only be “temporary jobs.”

Although market trends do have an effect on the labour force and turnover, they do not alleviate the potential chronic problem of a lack of suitable candidates and skills, which will need to be constructively addressed moving forward.