Expert Risk Articles

Talent - replacing the "baby boomer" generation

The increasingly critical issue of young talent recruitment is affecting industrial insurance and its stakeholders more and more. One of the best ways of actively tackling this issue is to promote a dual course of study, says Thomas Köhne, Professor of Insurance Management at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

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A shortage of skilled workers and demographic change are making it harder and harder to recruit suitable employees. This is ever more relevant in the area of industrial insurance. With the gradual retirement of the “baby boomer” generation over the next few years, talent gaps will appear. This is compounded by the fact that the insurance sector doesn’t exactly enjoy a positive image in many quarters. What this ultimately means is that in the battle with the young talent shortage caused by changing demographics, industrial insurance is in direct competition with other sectors – and faces image-related disadvantages that must be overcome in the process.

      “A shortage of skilled workers and demographic change are
      making it harder and harder to recruit suitable employees.”

At least the urgency of the situation seems to have been recognized. Market players have recently addressed the issue and voiced their concerns: according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2015, on a global scale the shortage of young talent and executives is the 13th greatest risk facing companies today. As a result, the German association of insurance companies DVS (Deutscher Versicherungs-schutzverband) has created a working group, whose aim is to engage with the issue of young talent recruitment and how it can be improved – not just on an association level, but also on a practical level. It’s not just the insurance companies themselves that need to actively train their own young talent; that responsibility also lies with brokers, risk managers and insurance buyers in the industry.


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The qualification requirements have changed drastically in recent years. Growing specialization in risk management, underwriting and claims settlement, along with the globalized nature of the business and increasing digitalization means new skills are required. Where technical insurance training was generally the done thing in the retiring generation, today’s generation need to have detailed knowledge of business management and insurance, along with the ability to speak multiple languages. Only a sufficiently in-depth academic education can provide this.

A good means of tackling this challenge at its roots would be to provide young school-leavers with industry-specific training. This dual course of study is becoming more and more popular since it combines an academic degree with practical training. It also helps employers reach the best and highly motivated students at an early stage, accompanying them throughout their studies, attracting them to the company’s own line of business, and ultimately retaining them.

      “Industrial insurance is an extremely fascinating sector, but
      it desperately needs young talent.”

Against this backdrop we have conceived a dual bachelor degree course run by the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin) that combines business management and industrial insurance. Over the three year course, the students divide their time between the higher education institution and the partner company, switching from one to the other every three months.

This means that over the course of the three year program, students spend 18 months at the company and can get to know and gradually internalize the industrial insurance business on location. Employers therefore have every chance to convey to young talents the exciting, multi-faceted and challenging nature of employment in the industrial insurance sector – also in comparison with other companies in the industry.

In terms of content, alongside courses traditionally taught as part of a business management degree, the program offers a curriculum that is specifically tailored to the features of industrial insurance, with courses in insurance management, the most important industrial insurance lines and international programs, so that the special features of the industrial insurance sector are dealt with thoroughly.

Risk management from the perspective of industrial customers is also addressed. In line with this, the course will be taught by a network of experienced professors and renowned industrial insurers, brokers, and captive agents with relevant qualifications.

Industrial insurance is an extremely fascinating sector, but it desperately needs young talent. For this reason, all sides need to actively invest in youth development. Dual traineeships in dual degree course programs offer the best foundation for this.



Information on the degree program can be found at