At 6.8 percent, Canada’s unemployment rate is significantly higher than the 5.5 percent rate most recently reported in the US.  Yet, in Canada as in the US, employers report difficulty in finding qualified applicants for many types of jobs, especially those requiring technical and/or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

One indicator of this tightening in the labor market is that, according to Statistics Canada, average weekly wages have been creeping up, and are now three percent higher than they were a year ago.

Insurance companies are relatively low-profile employers.  They provide good jobs with career paths and decent wages, but it is hard for the industry to get people to consider insurance as a career choice.

As the labor market tightens and wages continue to rise, insurers should be thinking about talent.  Some possible initiatives include:

  • Using analytics and other methods to improve success rates among people hired;
  • Forming partnerships with universities, colleges and trade schools to make sure the right courses are available and that students learn about job options within the industry; and
  • Establishing (or re-establishing) in-house development programs, using e-learning and other methodologies to give employees the knowledge and skills needed to advance.

Many industries have found that hiring people with the brains, attitude and motivation to succeed can compensate for a lack of job-specific skills.  Insurers should focus on where to find much-needed next generation talent, even if it means opening up some new channels for prospective employees.

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