December 8, 2017 by Greg Meckbach, Associate Editor
The challenge for the property and casualty insurance industry in recruiting young engineers is that engineers generally want to make things instead of figuring out why things crashed or burned.
“We have had a challenging time servicing our clients in the insurance industry primarily because it’s difficult to find good talent,” Jamie Catania, vice president of consulting and collision reconstruction at -30- Forensic Engineering, said in an interview. “Ontario is known as a big manufacturing economy, so I think most engineers who want to work in this province end up thinking ‘I have to go work for some place that makes widgets.’”
He added that engineering students tend not to think about applying mechanical, electrical and civil engineering knowledge to insurance losses.
The Insurance Institute of Canada (IIC), through its Career Connections program, gets the word out to students that engineers would likely have some skills and aptitudes for jobs in loss adjusting, risk management and underwriting, said Margaret Parent, director of the professionals’ division at the IIC.
Atef Mohany, chair of automotive, mechanical and manufacturing engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said he has not seen “active recruitment” from insurance companies at Oshawa-based UoIT.
It’s “probably not widely understood” by engineering students and recent graduates that insurance is a “career path that might be open to them,” added Jonathan Hack, president and chairman of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, an association of Ontarians with engineering degrees.
Ontario has more than 200,000 people with engineering degrees but fewer than half have the PEng designation from Professional Engineers Ontario, Hack noted. “Maybe they do engineering for a few years and they decide to go onto to a different career path.”
The IIC is promoting careers in insurance on campuses to university students and grads as well as career changers, Parent said in an interview. Also, -30- Forensic, formerly known as Giffin Koerth, partners with post-secondary schools in Ontario to raise awareness of career opportunities in insurance.
Some students are “looking at how they can adapt their engineering experience to different roles within the insurance industry,” Parent said, adding that not all engineering students are looking for an “actual pure PEng kind of role.”
But engineering students are “likely not as aware of the opportunities for practicing as an engineer in the insurance industry” as they might be in in manufacturing or municipal infrastructure, Catania said.
“We really haven’t seen insurance companies advertise with OSPE or try to get some visibility that [insurance is] a potential career option for students,” added Hack, who works full-time for Bombardier Aerospace in Toronto.
About nine in ten engineering students “would look at hands-on engineering opportunities,” Mohany said.
Canadian engineering schools produce “good talent” but it is “difficult” to attract them into insurance, Catania said.
“Forensic engineering, which is probably the main practice of engineering inside the insurance industry, is not a well-known discipline of engineering,” he said.