“When students get into the insurance industry, they find it absolutely fascinating,” says John McNeil. John is the Insurance Management Program Coordinator of Humber College’s Insurance Management - Property & Casualty program, which was established in 2017 within the Faculty of Business.
He is aware that this enthusiasm might elicit surprise, that many assume a career in the industry is just pushing papers. The reality is quite different. As John explains, the insurance industry is an exciting, highly technical industry—one that is so challenging and rewarding, from an employment perspective, that it is sometimes called “the hidden secret.”
Not only is it regulated and extremely stable, it is filled with advancements and opportunities. Moreover, its focus is so wide-ranging that it makes an ideal second career. According to John, almost no past experience is truly unrelated, since diverse skill sets are needed to understand and mitigate risk exposure across all facets of life. For this reason, Humber’s program welcomes students from all disciplines, including arts, ecology, legal, and finance programs.
“Our accelerator program complements those transferable skills,” says John. He offers the example of a kinesiology student with a strong understanding of the human body. “That lends itself well to an accident benefit role, which is about helping someone nurture themselves back into their life prior to the automobile accident. It’s all about helping people.”
And once people make the switch to a career in insurance, “they stay in it,” says John. “People who work in the industry are extremely passionate about it. There’s a line-up of people wanting to talk to my students and help them get started on their new careers, which is one of the reasons why there are so many donors that are looking to support our students and our program.”
Two of the program’s significant supporters are industry leaders BrokerLink and Magnes Group. BrokerLink is one of Canada’s largest insurance brokerages and operates as a network of brokers working from coast to coast. The company offers business, auto, and home insurance through its more than 200 offices. The Magnes Group is one of Canada’s leading independent insurance brokerages. Magnes has unique commercial expertise in several industry niche markets, as well as private client insurance and corporate group benefits.
While both employ some of the best insurance professionals in the business, the sector across the board is grappling with a human resources challenge. A recent study showed that in the next five to ten years, 27% of insurance thought leaders and technical specialists will be leaving the industry, mostly through retirement. The need to replace outgoing talent is so significant that John describes it as “an all-out talent war.”
To help meet industry employment needs, Humber recently scaled up efforts to recruit the best and brightest students through the creation of a Talent Pipeline Fund. Both BrokerLink and The Magnes Group are generous supporters of the fund.
“It is no secret that there is an incredible demand for labour in the insurance industry,” says Bruce Ramsay, HR Business Partner at The Magnes Group. “Magnes’ support allows Humber to continue to expand and develop their program through recruitment initiatives, while we are able to market and promote our brand in search of individuals who are passionate about insurance, offering students and graduates an opportunity to work for a best-in-class employer.”
In this mutually beneficial partnership, another clear winner is our students, says John. On average, “Students typically have a full-time job locked in six weeks before graduation, ready to start when they’re done their exams.”
Scholarships also offer another opportunity for industry leaders to support students in their education journey. This spring saw the first of these gifts come to fruition through the BrokerLink Career Path Scholarship. “BrokerLink is a proud supporter of Humber’s Insurance Management program, which has earned a solid reputation for graduating professionals who are fully equipped to begin a successful career in this dynamic sector,” says Emily Kennedy, Manager, Human Resources at BrokerLink. “There is a demand for great employees to fill opportunities throughout the insurance industry, and this partnership represents one of the very collaborative methods BrokerLink uses to attract key talent.”
The inaugural recipient of the Brokerlink Scholarship is Ruvani Ranawake. “As a newcomer who migrated in the middle of a pandemic, my journey was not easy,” says Ruvani, who worked hard to maintain good marks while working full time. “In addition to college fees, I had to pay for CIP textbooks and exams. This scholarship from BrokerLink not only helped me financially but also motivated me to work harder to achieve my dreams.”
If your own interest has been piqued by learning the ‘hidden secret’ of a career in insurance, consider pursuing the Ontario Graduate Certificate in the Humber College Insurance Management - Property & Casualty program. Attend the program’s numerous career events to learn more about the opportunities the industry can hold for your future.