Industry needs to futureproof now warns Zurich

Insurer Zurich has warned the industry and its business clients need to start the process of retraining and recruiting staff as technology changes the way the world economy will operate.

The underwriter has undertaken a detailed analysis of its UK workforce which found that 270 jobs could go unfilled in the next five years if the team is not reskilled for the future.

These roles would predominantly be in more specialist areas such as robotics, data science and cyber security.

The research, which was carried out with AI analytics platform Faethm, also revealed that two thirds of the UK workforce will see a tenth of their roles augmented in the next five years.  Faethm is an AI analytics platform that blends proprietary analytics with client data to predict the impact of emerging technology on any job, workforce, company, industry, location or economy. This enables businesses to re-skill employees for the future.

Since the start of the year Zurich UK has invested almost £1 million future proofing its workforce. To do this, it revealed the business is on a mission to retrain 3,000 UK employees, two thirds of the workforce, over the next five years to ensure the skills gap is closed.

“By anticipating the future impact of technology, the extended timeline will give employees the opportunity to further enhance and develop their careers as they can embark on new skills and projects across the business,” it said in a statement.

Zurich said the research had found the long-term upskilling of home-grown talent could also save the business £1 million in recruitment and redundancy costs alone.

Alastair Robertson, Head of Continuous Improvement and Automation at Zurich UK said: “There are many preconceived ideas about implementing automated processes into a business and how it these roles must be carried out by tech specialists. In reality, the best people to do this effectively have worked within the function that you’re looking to automate as they really understand the process.”

In terms of automation, Zurich has already introduced over 120 new automated interventions which process over a million individual transactions a year, with a further 100 in the pipeline.  Over the next 12 months it said the figure is expected to double. This includes processes such as faster customer payments and collation of policy documentation.

Zurich has already implemented a range of measures to future proof its workforce which include:

  • Last year, in an industry-first, Zurich became the first financial services provider to launch its own Data and Automation Academies which reinforced the development and support of automation, robotics and innovation across the UK business.
  • This year the insurer’s Automation Academy has evolved to facilitate the building and implementation of necessary claims automation solutions to support its claims commitment.

Zurich said it intends to create a teaching module: ‘A New Mindset: Leading in a Digital Era’. The new tool will enable managers within Zurich to educate their workforce around how digital upskilling can benefit their current and future careers.

“The skill set of our workforce is constantly changing,” John Keppel, COO at Zurich UK explained. “As an industry, we battle for top market talent to try and fill that gap. At Zurich, we don’t believe it has to be this way. Whilst we can’t ignore the benefits that automation brings, it’s important to retain, nurture and educate our teams. This is a clear opportunity, not a threat to our employees. It’s crucial that we factor the future skills requirements for the business into the process now. If we know what’s coming, we can start transitioning existing employees into new careers today.”