Canadian Underwriter

Insurance Institute’s efforts attract more millennials to industry

February 13, 2017   by Gloria Cilliers

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career-connections_1_9-feb-2017If the growing interest among students in the Insurance Institute’s Career Connections initiatives is any indication, the P&C insurance sector could see an increase in the influx of millennials into the industry over the next few years.

Trevor Buttrum, Manager, Career Connections at the Insurance Institute, said the program’s insurance-specific presentations see between 50 and 150 students attending an event, while its online chats attract between 400 to 700 (up from 200) student participants.

Speaking at a Career Connections networking event at the University of Toronto’s Rotman Commerce last week, Buttrum told Canadian Insurance Top Broker that, in addition to online chats, the program participates in around 110 on-campus events per year at over 60 campuses across the country, including presentations, panel discussions and networking events to create awareness about careers within the industry. “We’re definitely seeing the numbers grow as more and more students show an interest in the industry and possibly taking that into the action later on of applying to positions within insurance,” he said.

“Measuring the program is a tough thing to do, but since Career Connections started in 2003, we’ve seen metrics that suggest an influx of youth into the industry. In 2007, 12 percent of people working in the sector was under the age of 32. By 2012, this number had grown to 27 per cent.”

That number is expected to have grown significantly in the last five years thanks to a number of industry initiatives, such as the ones hosted by Career Connections.

“At one point, insurance wasn’t even on the list of careers that youth were considering. I don’t think it even made the top 25 of career choices. Now, we are 17th. The fact that youth are naming insurance specifically, is really encouraging to see,” Buttrum said.

While business schools are “a good fit” to targeted, Career Connections engages students from a wide array of disciplines to help attract the next generation of insurance professionals, he added.

“Because of the niche areas that insurance provides services for, we need students from diverse backgrounds and experience. A number of art students have identified they’re interested in business, for example, and this is a conduit where they can find a career in the financial services community that would embrace their background and skills, for example in communications.”

Insurance offers “stability and variety”

Speaking to Rotman Commerce students, Buttrum said the P&C insurance industry offers youth the “unique combination of stability and variety”. “Stability in that various emerging risks will keep us relevant for a long time to come, and insurance is embedded into everything we do,” he said, adding that 12 000 positions were added to the industry at the height of the last economic recession. “And variety, in that there’s a wide array of positions available, from brokers and underwriters, marketing representatives, actuaries, loss control specialists, risk managers, claims investigators and more.”

Insurance has evolved to be “one of the largest contributors to the prosperity of Canada’s financial and business sectors”, he added.

“Possibility and probability”

“Millennials are going to become a key component of our work force,” Buttrum told students, adding that 120 000 Canadians currently work in this sector.  “Not only is there a lot of possibility for you in insurance, there’s a lot of probability too. Around 37 per cent of insurance professionals are of the baby boomer generation (aged 46 to 65). 25 000 of that group will retire in the next five to 10 years,” he said. “It’s a pretty good time to be thinking of a career in insurance if you ask me.”

During the event, students got a chance to directly network with representatives from Canada’s largest insurance companies, including RSA, Travelers and Aviva.

Following the event Shaier Sattar, a fourth-year finance & economics student, said he’d “definitely be considering a career in insurance after graduation”. “I now have a deeper understanding of the opportunities within the industry and I’d consider becoming an actuary.”

Marisa Tartari, a third- year finance & economics student, showed interest in the same position. “I knew nothing about insurance before today. I’ve always wanted to be an investment banker, but now I’d consider being an actuary in insurance,” she said.

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This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.