Canadian Underwriter

Tech training: How to get prospective brokers to hit the ground running

December 20, 2021   by Alyssa Di Sabatino

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Applied Systems will be partnering with Humber College to develop and launch an insurance technology certificate program.

The program will train students in using Applied software, which will allow students to transition more easily into a brokerage office upon program completion. Brokerages across Canada use several different broker management systems (BMS) technologies, of which Applied’s is one.

The insurance technology certificate program “provides people looking to have a career in insurance with hands-on experience using Applied’s technology, in parallel with the theory that they learn,” Steve Whitelaw, Applied Systems’ vice president and general manager, told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday. “We try to make it real and give them practical skills by complementing that course content with hands-on training on our solutions.”

“So if they learn about ordering a driver’s abstract, for example, they’ll actually get their hands on the keyboard to try and do something like that. Or if they learn about having to attach proof of loss to a client file — and the reasons why you need a proof of loss — then we actually give them experience and they know how to do that.”

The program will also focus on the fundamentals of the industry and its three pillars — underwriting, loss adjusting, and brokerage operations. Students will have an opportunity to understand the personal and commercial lifecycle fully as they enter the industry.

The curriculum was created collaboratively with Applied Systems, Humber College faculty, and a broker advisory committee consisting of Arthur J. Gallagher Canada Limited, BrokerLink Inc., Firstbook Cassie & Anderson Ltd., HUB International Ontario, and NFP Canada.

This year’s program follows a pilot of the same nature that launched last fall.

“We did a pilot in the fall of last year and then moved to the more fulsome course offering that we actually just finished yesterday,” Whitelaw said on Wednesday.

Last year’s pilot program trained students in Applied’s Rating Services software and helped them learn to quote. This semester’s seven-week program expanded to include hands-on training for full policy management in personal and commercial lines with Applied’s software. Students will continue with the management training this winter.

The program serves as a pipeline for new talent to enter the workforce without the lengthy training process they would typically undergo to learn the industry’s software.

“They come into the brokerage that much further ahead in terms of their onboarding, where they can get in there day one and start doing stuff to support the broker,” Whitelaw said.

Whitelaw said the partnership will be useful for drawing top talent to the industry directly out of school.

“The risk you have is there’s a big investment by the [students] themselves as well as Humber to educate them and get them through the program, and the last thing you want to see is people get through the program and then choose to go in a different career,” Whitelaw said.

However, according to a Humber press release from last year’s pilot launch of the program, the payoff for students has been strong. It stated that “eighty-five per cent of students in the program were hired after graduation” with the remaining students either returning to school or taking a break during the pandemic.

“Trying to get as many people in with varied backgrounds just makes [the industry] more diverse,” Whitelaw said. “It’s important to ensure that we can do whatever we can to get as many talented people into the industry.”

For future iterations of the program, Applied plans to continue adapting the hands-on learning aspects of the course to align with the curriculum.