Technology will continue leading the list of areas where carriers seek to add staff during the next 12 months – and increasingly those jobs will be more difficult to fill than ever.

Those were among the key findings of the midyear 2014 U.S. Insurance Labor Outlook survey by the Jacobson Group and The Ward Group. Technology topped the list of job growth areas covered by the survey, which was released last week. The results also suggested that filling those jobs is becoming notably more difficult.

 “It’s no surprise to anyone that technology has been, is – and may well remain – the greatest focal point of hiring,” says Jeff Rieder, partner and head of the Ward Group.

“What’s notable is the increasing intensity of demand across all areas of the carrier world.”

Behind the scenes, the need to replace legacy systems is driving the demand. “They don’t offer the flexibility, speed, and cross-functional wherewithal of newer systems and technologies,” Rieder notes.

The Ward Group chief identifies five reasons why the demand for technology staff isn’t likely to wane any time soon:

  • The need for the ability to transact business on line and through mobile devices
  • Demand for automating all existing processes
  • Consolidating multiple platforms
  • The limited skillsets of those who have worked only or primarily in a legacy environment.
  • The need for enhanced business intelligence.

“Getting more data from your systems is on everybody’s minds,” Rieder says. He points out that technology development for underwriting is also a major factor contributing to the demand. “Today’s systems are making the underwriting decisions for the underwriters, particularly on smaller, less-complex accounts,” he observes. “This lets the underwriter focus on more complex risks, which essentially reduces the number of underwriters needed across the entire book of business.”
Beyond technology, a robust job market

But it’s not just technology. The carrier job market remains extremely robust, and overall headcount for the insurance industry is expected increase 1.01 percent in the next 12 months, according to survey says. That compares to the previous 12-month period, where overall employment increased 1.35 percent.

Industry unemployment remains extremely low compared to the general U.S. rate: 6.2 percent in July versus 3.4 percent for the industry.

Technology aside, the largest carriers will be looking to ramp up their analytics staffs; mid-sized companies will be focused on claims hires, and the hiring by smaller insurers will be concentrated in underwriting. It’s anticipated that actuarial positions will be the toughest to fill.

On the downside of the insurance job market, the survey finds that temp hiring won’t remain as robust as it was earlier this year:  Only 8 percent of carriers expect to add more temporary positions versus 15 percent earlier this year.

The number of carriers expected to decrease staff positions is also up: Nine percent say they will let staff go, compared to 4 percent earlier this year.

 

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