Capacity building and empowering the insurance workforce of the future

By Jane Onimbo

“The only thing worse than training your employees is not training them and having them stay”

-Henry Ford

Capacity building may be defined as the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations require or it is the improvement in an individual or organization’s facility “to produce, perform or deploy” its resources.

Globalization has led to rapid knowledge generation across the Globe, investing in capacity building has become more critical than ever because of the rapid changing times, The International Labor Organization(ILO) defines capacity building/development as a “process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to achieve their objectives over time”. The Insurance industry has not been left behind and processes which were previously manual are now being automated.

There are three (3) levels of capacity building, namely: Individual, Institutional and Systemic. Capacity Building programs also follow the same levels as the three mentioned above.

The Difference Between Capacity Building and Skills Development

The two are used interchangeably, capacity assessment is critical in capacity program, it highlights the competency gaps and skills gaps of individuals which are lacking in the organization. The critical positions versus critical roles are monitored closely by the organization in order to create a balance in the performance. Capacity Building must result into change in skills and competences of individuals and the organization is expected to have massive investments on this to realize positive gains.

Why Capacity Building

Capacity Building is expanding the capabilities for achievements and it comes with heavy investments which must be planned, budgeted and monitored in order to achieve the required results. In European countries, approximately 1% increase in training days leads to a 3% increase in productivity(the little increase is noted immediately). The share of overall productivity growth attributable to training is around 16% (CEDEFOP, 2007), this implies that training has direct results which is an increase in productivity.

Insurance Labour Market

The insurance industry is massive globally and there is a big percentage of an unintentional workforce in the world, only a small number of millennials are interested in the Insurance field, many prefer other more attractive fields like Information Technology. Research indicates that 40% of the workforce in insurance will become eligible for retirement within the next three (3) years – Deloitte

Insurance professionals aged fifty-five (55) years and above increased by 74%, in the USA, 169,000 insurance professionals were above sixty-five (65) years, only 28% of the workforce is below 35 years – Mckinsey. There is a mismatch between investment in technology against that in Human Capital. The average trainings attended in the insurance industry per year stands at around 0.3%, while in banks it is over 2% yet both are in the service industry

Forces Shaping the Future of Insurance

During the recent years the industry has witnessed tough regulation by the Regulators globally, with the emerge of the Covid pandemic, there has been a fast changing technology globally, customer expectations have increased i.e. prompt service, there is stiff competition due to saturated markets, there is rising operating expenses.

The issue of low awareness and trust levels has led to low Insurance penetration levels, the dynamics in the environment are very turbulent leading to rising fraud levels in the Insurance Industry and boundless skills acquisition, the older generation or main players exiting the market and millennials not easily attracted to the industry.

There is a high rate of Human Capital Obsolescence due to low rates of trainings with new skills. Uptake demographics are shifting and leaning more towards millennials. Over 50% of the work force are millennials and less than 10% would wish to work for companies that have employed them.

Human Capital Motivators are fast changing like working from home and the millennials expect the employers to furnish their homes with recommended workstation, Wi-Fi and modern laptops.

Facing the Future

Organizations must carefully make decisions to address the Covid 19 pandemic effects, these may have a long-term impact on their employment brand and statistics over time. A lot of help is required to workers and enterprises to adjust to change in environment, technology, communication and skills. Strong leadership greatly impacts on returns and business performance, retains employees, manages change and mentorship programs, management of the stakeholders like Customer experience and expectations is very important and due to stiff competition the customers are more enlightened.

Most organizations have adopted new strategies for eradicating bureaucracy by adopting new ways of doing things which is inclined to information technology and adoption of electronic policy documents(EPD). Renewal notice being sent via the cell phone on bulk short message service (SMS) directly to the client as opposed to using the intermediary, emailing or postal services. The industry has also seen adoption of automatic renewals by system date and client is advised to pay the premium there after instead of the vice which leads to delay and loss of revenues.

What Does the Future Hold?

Digital deftness and collaboration skills are now critical skills for any organization to survive. New demand is growing for non-routine analytical skills which include creativity, problem-solving, communication, teamwork and entrepreneurship and decreasing for routine skills. There is need for strong collaboration between the insurance players, public and training entities. Organizations must aim to make processes simpler, fun, balance work and life for employees to ease pressure and increase productivity.

All employers must create an environment that facilitates innovation, creativity and agility like, for instance, come up with flexi hours, working from home, good office ambience, free data or internet services, offer modern machines like laptops to be owned by staff through loan repayments. Human resource managers should come up with ways to measure Output against physical presence to encourage working from home. Mentorship programs should also be encouraged in all enterprises to drive millennials closer.

The current efforts to introduce financial literacy (including savings, investments, insurance, and pensions) in all levels of the education system should be encouraged. The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) may also need to ensure that workers serving in the insurance industry are recruited based on skills and experiences in order to enhance service delivery. Retooling and Upskilling should be geared towards attracting new talent and targeting the millennials who have a negative about insurance. There should be new ways to hire, train, and redeploy workers. It is also important to have a diversified workforce and salary scales that are well spelt out and remunerations as per the skills acquired to avoid discouraging the millennials and ensure that the skilled people get the jobs.

“If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain if you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees, If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow PEOPLE” -Chinese Proverb


With the ongoing pandemic, organizations must come out of there comfort zones and begin to think of new ways to do business, investment is key in capacity building and all energies must be focused on human capital. The top leadership must be committed to the change and must focus energies to the long term survival of their organizations as opposed to the current and maintain the status quo.

A paradigm shift is required in our attitude towards training the human capital and hence we need to take a bold step to heavily invest in the people who work for us with no fear that they shall leave.

Jane Onimbo is the IIK Convenor, Member services.

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