Why broker association isn't concerned by Ontario jobseeker shift

Province's workforce increasingly looking elsewhere, Indeed has found

Why broker association isn't concerned by Ontario jobseeker shift

Insurance News


More Ontario job seekers are looking for employment in other provinces, particularly in remote-friendly sectors, a new report by jobs site Indeed has found. The trend, though, isn’t a cause for concern for Ontario’s insurance industry, according to the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO).

In the second half of 2022, there was a nearly 50% spike in clicks by Ontario-based job seekers on job postings in other provinces compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Indeed findings, which were reported on by the Canadian Press.

The jobs that drove significant growth in outbound interest from Ontario were typically in remote-friendly white-collar jobs such as tech and marketing.

“Are we aware of any trend of insurance agents looking to work in other provinces? Not really,” said Colin Simpson, CEO of IBAO.

“There’s a barrier in place where you need to be licensed in other provinces. It's not like your Ontario license lets you travel around the country. Generally, a brokerage writes business from their home office where individuals will become licensed in multiple jurisdictions.”

While Simpson said he wasn’t aware of any broker movement trend, there was a caveat. Consolidation in the sector, with large brokerages having bought up offices across multiple provinces, could mask any rash of individuals moving if they were staying within the same company.

“The bigger brokerages tend to have representation in all provinces, so it’s very possible that they’re moving staff from one province to another within their offices,” Simpson told Insurance Business.

Labor market upended

The Canadian Press said the wider trend not only shows a growing interest in moving away from Ontario, but also highlights the pandemic’s effect on remote work.

Statistics Canada data showed a marked uptick in people leaving Ontario for other provinces last year. During the first three quarters of 2022, 83% more people moved from Ontario to another province than during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, the Canadian Press reported.

Increasing digitization affords brokers and other professionals the chance to work remotely, which could lead some to reconsider how important it is to be based near their employers’ offices.

“Many brokers are also digital these days. They could still write Ontario business outside Ontario, as many of them do – they just need to be licensed,” Simpson said.

“But let’s say one of the big aggregators decides to base themselves wholly out of the province, then you [might] see the economic impact of moving jobs from one place to the next.”

Simpson said that would be “highly unlikely,” however,” due to the nature of the insurance business.

“Brokers selling commercial lines would need, to a certain degree, local connectivity with their customers to understand the business, the environment, and so forth,” he said.

Opening avenues for recruitment

Insurance, like many other industries, is facing up to a talent gap and a shift in the labor market.

The IBAO is actively creating avenues for talent to enter brokerages. Late last year, the association launched a first-of-its-kind, three-month program with Humber College that aims to deliver skilled commercial lines graduates into the Canadian broker channel.

The certificate program will be delivered virtually and is available across Canada. Registration opened on January 1 for the pilot program, with the official launch scheduled in September 2023.

Applied Systems, which helped design the program, has said the focus was on educating prospects to have the skills needed to swiftly adapt to the industry’s accelerated digital transformation.

“[The program aims to] equip candidates with a working knowledge of the tools and systems they would be using if they chose to broking as a career,” said Steve Whitelaw, senior vice president of Applied Systems Canada, in an earlier interview with Insurance Business.

“We’re putting measures in place with various colleges across Ontario, to try and capture students’ interest to join the industry early, because it’s not necessarily the natural path for a lot of people to think of coming into as a career,” IBAO’s Simpson said.

“But once you've educated students on the opportunities, how big the industry is, and the different types of roles that you can move around in, it gets very appealing.

“The one thing that a lot of people don't necessarily connect with an insurance career is that it is exceptionally stable, especially amid economic downtimes.”

What are your thoughts on job seekers looking for work outside of Ontario? Share them in the comments below. 

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!