Insurance giant Zurich has spent £1million upskilling existing employees to combat an upcoming skills shortage.
Zurich has identified 270 robotics, data science and cyber security jobs that, if employees are not reskilled, could go unfilled by 2024.
The business is on a mission to retrain 3,000 UK employees – two-thirds of its workforce – over the next five years to ensure the skills gap is closed.
Employees working in the likes of underwriting and claims teams, and in HR and finance have started the retraining process.
The insurance firm said the programme could save it £1million in recruitment and redundancy costs.
Zurich COO John Keppel said he expected both the cost of the programme and its savings to increase over time.
“[It] isn’t about us spending money or avoiding costs, it’s about telling our people: there’s a change going on that’s likely to affect your skills and employability, and this is a chance to change that.”
The upskilling programme has been ongoing for some time and has been unaffected by the coronavirus.
Zurich has made no employees redundant because of Covid-19 and has no plans to do so.
Automation in Zurich
Zurich has introduced over 120 new automated processes that carry out over a million individual transactions a year, with a further 100 in the pipeline.
Over the next 12 months the figure is expected to double. This includes processes such as faster customer payments and collation of policy documentation.
Last year Zurich became the first financial services provider to launch its own data and automation academies.
The business has also partnered with the University of Winchester to help develop a three-year data science apprenticeship degree. Seven of Zurich’s employees are among the first cohort embarking on the course.
Keppel continued: “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.”
Zurich UK head of continuous improvement and automation Alastair Robertson added: “There are many preconceived ideas about implementing automated processes into a business and how 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.”