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Editorial - March 2012

As this issue was going to press, Statistics Canada released its Labour Force Survey for the month of February, which contains some disturbing findings. Despite losing 2,800 jobs during the month, the national unemployment rate nevertheless fell by 0.2 percentage points to 7.4%. However, the report also revealed that the recovery in employment is occurring at the expense of the youngest job seekers (those aged 15-24), who are dropping out of the search for work in large numbers and are at risk of becoming a “lost generation.” Encouragingly, insurance was cited as one of the sectors of the economy where employment is on the rise.

Indeed, as the Insurance Institute’s demographic research from 2009 made clear, the industry is scrambling for new people due to the imminent retirement of large numbers of senior employees between now and 2017. And as pointed out in the Institute’s article on page 12, a recent survey of HR managers in the industry found, not surprisingly, that up to three quarters of positions that were filled in the last two years required up to five years of industry experience, a trend that will surely intensify.

So on the one hand, we have our industry rapidly approaching the abyss of an acute labour shortage; and on the other, we have a massive pool of potential employees that are desperate for stable work with opportunities for good pay and advancement. The problem is, they’re just not the ideal candidates that our industry is looking for.

Sooner or later, the insurance industry will have no choice but to do the hard work of trying to bridge the gap between filling the employment holes that need to be filled and working with the talent pool that is available to it. If companies need people with at least five years of experience, they will simply have to hire these young people and invest in the training and education necessary to get them there.

At the same time, the industry needs to have a much more organized and proactive approach to recruitment. Industry leaders will need to think big and think collaboratively. A good example to follow might be the Canadian Armed Forces. When recruitment numbers fell a few years ago, the CAF ran splashy commercials during the trailers before youth-targeted movies playing at multiplexes. The insurance industry will have to do something similar to get young people’s attention.

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Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the March 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

Transcontinental Media G.P.