According to the latest annual survey from Allianz and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), 67% of general insurers are experiencing a shortage of skills at present, with the proportion down 10% on a year ago.
Despite the year-on-year improvement 73% of the 2,300 CII members questioned identified skills gaps in their organisations, with service quality, increased talent expenses and the inability to achieve growth the top three problems where skills are scarce.
Year-on-year changes to the level of skills shortages vary across different market disciplines, with the London Market, underwriting and broking seeing improvements of 16%, 6% and 5% respectively, while claims remained stable.
Forty two per cent of the CII’s general insurance members feel the sector should focus its efforts on improving technical skills, with soft skills and business competence also rated important by 20% of respondents.
However, only 10% of members believe that attracting new talent should form part of the industry’s focus, suggesting a greater emphasis on developing the capabilities of existing staff.
Obtaining professional qualifications remains an important part of members’ views on staff development across all levels within a business, with 89% in support.
Alarmingly, members’ opinion of the quality of talent entering the industry is at an all-time low, with only 8% thinking the latest entrants are “very well” equipped in terms of basic literacy and numeracy.
Consequently, the proportion of CII members who consider “education serves financial services well” has fallen from 54% to 49%.
CII spokesman, Daniel Pedley, comments: “There is a clear appetite from our members to get involved in the skills debate and, as the world’s largest professional body for insurance, we will continue to make that voice heard.”