by Steve Whitelaw, SVP & General Manager, Applied Systems Canada —
Before the pandemic struck, the short supply of skilled candidates joining the broker channel was one of the biggest threats to the industry’s future. The skills gap dilemma hasn’t left us, and, in many ways, the pandemic made the gap a wider chasm to cross. With many insurance professionals retiring in the ‘Great Resignation,’ the disruption of post-secondary education only made things worse. And much of the problem fell on the shoulders of insurance brokers to fix.
Humber College and Applied Systems Narrow the Skills Gap
Humber College recognized early on that knowledge of Applied technology is an enabler within the insurance industry and Applied partnered with Humber College’s Insurance Management Program for that reason. Humber also worked closely with the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) to ensure integration between the education that the provincial association offers, and the industry’s licensing body allows those who graduate from the program to earn their professional designation as a broker.
The curriculum was created in collaboration with the Humber College faculty, Applied, the IBAO, and a Broker Advisory Committee with representation from some of the best-in-class brokerages in Canada. “The Broker Advisory Committee is a series of hand-selected technical specialists and industry thought leaders from the broker channel,” said John McNeil, program coordinator of the Humber College Insurance Management Program. “What the Broker Advisory Committee did for Humber College and the Applied Systems initiative was help put the program together. They also provided us with thought leadership and feedback.”
Producing Top-Tier Talent for Top-Tier Brokers
The value of the Humber program is that it provides a level of professional recognition required in the P&C sector. It recognizes that students coming out of university or college with a degree need additional education and training to enter the insurance industry productively. This partnership is critical to have a holistic program that isn’t overwhelming and allows the candidates who succeed to come out and be productive in their roles within the industry with a recognized designation and certificate.
Nicolas Gonzalez, an international student in Humber’s Insurance Management – Property and Casualty (P&C) graduate certificate program, said, “it’s the first time that I felt supported by my professors in the program and from the industry. From the first day of class, people from the industry speak to us to see if we’re looking for jobs. They are willing to hire us, so it is amazing. We’ve received lots of support from the IBAO, and it’s great because we all feel that support.”
Access to industry leaders was one of Blain Tattersall’s favourite parts of Humber’s program. He said, “meeting everyone from insurance companies like Wawanesa, or brokerages such as HUB, NFP, and BrokerLink, and Insurtech companies like Applied Systems is a great benefit because where else would you get access to all these people? To have access to such high-level industry people is just unbelievable.”
John McNeil, the Humber College Insurance Management Program coordinator, said he defines success in the program by seeing students jump into exciting roles within the industry. “We foresaw the talent crunch, which was the program’s inspiration. What we also really want to do is not only identify this as an issue but also develop a best-in-class program that would help develop top talent for the industry and best-in-class brokerages.”
About the Author
Steve Whitelaw is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Applied Systems Canada, responsible for leading strategic efforts across the Canadian business. Prior to Applied, Whitelaw was Vice President, IT Planning, Execution & Operational Effectiveness at Travelers Canada. Over his career at Travelers Canada, he served several executive roles focused on strategic planning and execution, personal lines and business solutions. In addition, Whitelaw has actively participated on many industry association boards and committees, including Health Claims for Automobile Insurance Processing (HCAIP) and most recently as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Centre for the Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO). Whitelaw holds a bachelor’s degree in Science and a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo.
About Applied Systems
Applied Systems is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance. Recognized as a pioneer in insurance automation and the innovation leader, Applied is the world’s largest provider of agency and brokerage management systems, serving customers throughout the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. By automating the insurance lifecycle, Applied’s people and products enable millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most. For more information, please visit appliedsystems.com.
SOURCE: Applied Systems