How the industry’s talent war shapes insurance education

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Property and casualty insurance education is adapting to meet the needs of the industry’s desire for ‘plug-and-play’ talent that can hit the ground running, one panelist told a Live with CU presentation last week.

More specifically, educational bodies are entering partnerships with industry associations and tech vendors to make sure insurance program graduates have the tech skills, as well as the knowledge and soft skills, to enter into the job market fully prepared.

“What really inspired me to start thinking that way was a conversation I had with an employer during COVID,” said John McNeil, program coordinator and full-time professor of the Insurance Management Post-Graduate Program at Humber College. “They said, ‘I’d love to hire your students, but how do I train them?’ That’s started to get me to rethink how I am delivering education.

“Why are they jumping out [from an academic education] having to do more training, or more education on top of that?”

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In his role as a program coordinator, McNeil has been working with industry partners — such as the Insurance Institute of Canada, the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, and tech vendors like Applied Systems, Exactimate and Encircle — to deliver a holistic education that not only provides a foundational knowledge of insurance, but also the industry credentials and technical skills students require at the companies hiring them.

For example, through various Humber programs, insurance students can work toward their Chartered Insurance Professional designation or RIBO brokers license, through the Institute or the IBAO. They also learn the tech skills required for managing broker management systems (i.e., the Applied Systems course in Humber’s forthcoming Commercial Account Management course) and software used in the property claims and restoration industry (Xactimate and Encircle).

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“A lot of our students used to graduate from our programs and brokers, for example, would have to sit there and wait for two weeks and hopefully they’ll get licensed,” McNeil said. “Now what we’re trying to do is this whole idea of graduating someone turnkey as best and as fast as we can. Then our program meets up with [industry’s the goal of] orientation.”

Given the industry’s competitive war for talent, graduates of this more ‘hands-on’ style of education are leaving the hallowed halls of academe with multiple job offers, McNeil reports.

“With respect to our [Humber Insurance Management program] graduates, students start to come off the board as early as October in the fall semester, which is the first semester,” McNeil said. “International students are typically graduating with an average of about five to six job offers that companies are presenting to them as early as February. And in the second semester, with domestic students, it’s anywhere upwards of 10 to 14 [offers].

“From a job market perspective, every one of our students comes off the board no later than June — and 90% of them [receive job offers] by the end of April.”


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