01 October 2019

Scarce skills addressed with SA’s first occupational qualification for insurance underwriters

Submitted by Yenziwe Dhlomo

The first group of formally recognised underwriters in South Africa officially graduates on the 9th October 2019. 21 candidates will graduate with an ‘Occupational Certificate: Insurance Agent: Insurance Underwriter NQF Level 5 (91784). This follows the introduction of the first ever formal underwriter occupational qualification by the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) at the end of last year.

INSETA introduced a pilot project to enable experienced candidates without qualifications; to obtain an ‘Occupational Certificate: Insurance Agent:  Insurance Underwriter.

Nadia Starr, CEO at INSETA, explains “We are focused on training insurance underwriters in South Africa and growing the pool and quality of scarce and critical skills. In the past, many in the sector chose not to follow the career path as there were concerns that positions would be automated. But the truth is that while some aspects of underwriting can be digitalised, a person with a finely tuned skillset is needed as there are so many variables. Underwriters assess financial risks without being an accountant, predict medical outcomes without being a doctor and defend a decision within the set parameters without being an attorney.

“For those already in the underwriting section of short term, long term, medical insurance and reinsurance career mobility had been hindered. This has changed with INSETA completing its pilot project to deliver this qualification.

“The qualification aims to prepare candidates to evaluate and interpret information to protect stakeholders’ interests by using specialist technical knowledge to determine, price, manage and transfer risk. The course can be completed in 12 months but there is a further six months available to allow candidates to complete their Portfolio of Evidence or assignments.” concludes Starr.

INSETA has adopted a learning strategy, which is aimed at all levels of employment in the sector and is aligned to the National Skills Development Strategy.

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INSETA’s purpose is to grow the pool and quality of scarce and critical skills in the insurance sector, enhance the sector and support the country’s transformation with a skilled and capable insurance and related services workforce. The insurance sector has approximately 9 104 employers, employing over 100 000 people, most of whom are skilled and highly skilled employees.