Insurance industry shortfalls
Report reveals graduates have big gaps in skills and knowledge of the sector
THE INSURANCE seta (Inseta) has released its second report arising from a study of skills development in the industry.
While the first report defined the context for skills development in the sector as a whole, the second focuses on short-term insurance.
It covers the challenges faced, perceptions of transformation, success in addressing skills shortages, key drivers predicted for the next five years and the organisation’s effectiveness in up-skilling.
Inseta chief executive Sandra Dunn says the report provides valuable information for stakeholders to adjust their strategic priorities with regard to skills development.
“For Inseta in particular, we’ve taken note of the fact that with regard to addressing critical skills shortages, we are not always perceived as leading growth initiatives at a higher level,” Dunn says.
Len Deacon, the author of Inseta’s report, says many respondents indicated that funding from Inseta would be a help, but that it focused more on entry-level positions with little to no focus on actuarial levels.
The insurance sector is facing skills shortages across the board and statisticians, actuaries and experienced senior underwriters are in short supply.
The respondents said the quality of the graduates from universities was deteriorating. Students seemed to be knowledgeable, but did not live up to the image. When interviewed, it became clear that they lacked basic business and language skills. Many believed mentoring programmes could compel experienced and “mature” staff to transfer skills.
Deacon says, however, there are serious limitations for in-house training, especially coaching and mentoring.
“Industry consolidation has eliminated many of the traditional large multiline insurers that gave previous generations an apprenticeship opportunity,” he says. “In the new environment, skills development is largely the responsibility of partially trained managers with limited experience and with large gaps in knowledge. This problem is exacerbated by a culture of entitlement among job seekers who expect high salaries, luxury cars, rapid promotion and status.”
He says respondents indicated that it was difficult to find suitable candidates for middle and senior management positions. In some instances it was easier to find a suitable candidate for a senior directorship position than a candidate with suitable qualifications and skills for middle or senior management.
People are often placed in these positions before they are ready to assume the responsibilities attached to the role.
Deacon says short-term insurers deal with a shortage of needed skills and socio-political pressure for transformation by promoting employees more rapidly than their peers in developed economies. This results in managers who lack the experience and life skills to handle their responsibilities. Many also lack the strategic management and decisionmaking skills that are crucial to being a good manager.
Respondents expressed a need for an accord to create an environment in which industry players could work together to
HELPING HAND: Inseta chief executive Sandra Dunn hands over a cheque to Nokwanda Mkhize of the SA Actuaries Development Programme to fund actuarial science students.