The US and Canada face similar situations in terms of their overall employment picture. Unemployment is relatively low in the US (5.1% as of October 2, 2015) and higher in Canada (6.8%). However, Canada has a higher labor force participation rate (66.1%) versus just 62.4% for the US–the lowest US labor force participation rate since 1977.
Both countries face the challenge of an aging workforce, and both countries are trying to deal with what might be called a “skills mismatch”–a shortage of workers with the digital expertise needed for the new jobs that are being created.
In both countries, insurance can play an important role in providing the kind of jobs that draw people into the workforce and keep them there. But, as Ravi Malhotra noted in a recent Accenture report, only two percent of respondents to a recent survey expressed an interest in working at an insurance company.
This could pose serious problems for Canadian insurers (as well as other companies competing for tech-savvy workers.) In fact, a report funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program and carried out by the Information and Communications Technology Council found that, by 2019, Canada will need 182,000 people to fill positions for information systems analysts and consultants, computer and network operators, Web technicians, software engineers and others.
In the past, employers developed their own in-house training programs to ensure a steady supply of capable workers. Many of these programs have been abandoned, but it may make sense for insurers to re-think the benefits of apprenticeship and training programs. A talent pool of young workers with digital skills may become a key competitive differentiation point for insurers in the US and Canada, and going the “do it yourself” route may be the only sure way to impart the requisite skills.
- Download, The insurance workforce of the future: Why will so many insurers fail to achieve their digital potential? (PDF)