Canadian Underwriter

P&C industry should consider “under-hiring” to fill talent gap: RIMS panel

September 15, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

Young man in a blue button up and tie smiles while holding his resume at a table across from someone on a laptop

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P&C insurance is still struggling to backfill employees, as executives retire and the Great Resignation directs workers to other industries, industry experts told delegates attending a RIMS Canada Conference panel in Halifax.

Possible solutions include turning to students (via apprenticeships), recruiting in high schools, and hiring those with 70% of the required experience — or “under-hires.”

“We need to learn to accept people at 70% of what we need for the job, so that we can train them to be 100%,” says Christina Gardiner, manager of insurance and risk for York Region. “In the government, we call that under-hiring.

“There might be someone who’s internal, who has an interest in working in risk, who might be working in another department, but has absolutely no training or very little. We will bring them on board, and we will put them through their paces, put them into courses, train them, mentor them, and pair them up with someone who is fully-trained.”

One issue is Applicant Tracking Systems — which digitally screen and sort resumes — often overlook candidates who have industry potential, but don’t fulfill certain qualifying keywords in their resume.

“When we’re using automation to look at those resumes, we’re not seeing those 70 percents — they’re cut out before we even see them. So, we kind of shoot ourselves [in the foot],” says Gardiner.

Another issue is how Millennials and Gen-Zs perceive the insurance industry, panellists acknowledge. To give them broader insights, the industry should cast a wider recruitment net, starting as early as high school age.

“We need to start looking at ways at the high school level, to encourage people into our fields, be it bringing a group of high school students to a university and show them what university is like, what insurance and risk is, even what finance is,” says Steve Pottle, director of risk management services at Thompson Rivers University.

Attracting students to the industry may begin at the high school level, but retention could begin as early as mid- or post–secondary education, the panellists observed.

Some insurance companies and brokerage firms across the United States and globally have started new apprenticeship programs for students in college or university to receive on-the-job training and entice a new generation of employees.

“[Apprenticeships] don’t require somebody to have a college degree,” says Kristen Peed, director of corporate risk management at CBIZ Inc. “When I hire somebody, I hire for attitude and aptitude. I want somebody who’s going to come to work and be really excited about being there and have the capacity to learn.”

Companies should ultimately invest in young talent if they want to decrease the industry’s long-term talent risk, suggests Patrick Sterling, RIMS president and vice president of legendary people at Texas Roadhouse.

“I can tell you, if you make that investment to do that — to give back, to take the younger generation in and inspire them into a great career they might not be thinking of — you will get tremendous dividends out of it,” he says.


 Feature image by Productions