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Talent-drive lunches to counter insurance skill shortage

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Blake Oliver Consulting is helping insurers fight back against an “image problem” by hosting targeted lunch events in Melbourne and Sydney aimed at opening the eyes of top graduates to the perks of a career in the industry.

The recruiter has teamed with the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) and Insurtech Australia. The first event, a three-course sit down lunch, will be on October 6 at the RACV City Club, with a second pegged for Sydney in March and hopes for annual lunches going forward.

ANZIIF CEO Prue Willsford and Insurtech Australia CEO Simone Dossetor will address the gathering – a strong candidate pool of almost 80 university students and four underwriting firms, four brokerages, an insurtech and some service providers across 13 tables.

“The idea is that it really raises the profile of the industry,” Blake Oliver Founder and MD Daniel Marsh tells

“Students will go away from this event having a much clearer idea of what the insurance industry is all about and a real understanding, and maybe want to join the industry.”

University faculties have been asked to nominate top students and screening will be conducted prior to the lunch via video, followed by some pre-work by invitation to get them ready to network and meet in groups and different sectors. After the lunch there will be opportunities to follow up with each of the companies involved.

The initiative comes as the industry talent pool faces a crisis, with unemployment forecast to sink to 50-year lows and skilled migration levels down after covid restrictions.

Mr Marsh, who was previously an underwriter at Chubb and worked in broking for many years, says insurance has an image problem and “if you’re a young student you’d much rather work for Deloitte, or CBA,” even though the skills of engineers and accountants and so on are highly transferrable to insurance.

“The insurance industry doesn't really promote itself to really show how diverse it can be,” he said.

Ms Dossetor tells the event aims to convey a passion for why insurance should be considered as a career.

“Talent, particularly in the insurance industry, is such a key challenge. I really wanted insurtechs to contribute to some initiatives. This is a way to really attract new people into the industry and share the variety and act as a starting point,” she said. "Us coming along with an insurtech lens might be a bit sexier.”

Mr Marsh says the lunches are a rare opportunity for students to access the top echelon of insurance.

“If you’re a second-year student or coming to the last year of your degree, you’ve got the opportunity to sit next to the CEO of a global insurance company. That is really great exposure that otherwise you wouldn’t get,” he said.