Challenging Italy’s Gerontocracy
Thu 15 Nov 2012
How Lloyd's is challenging the talent timebomb in Italy.
With an ageing population, a growing number of adults forced to live with their parents and more than half its top politicians and business leaders over 60, Italy is often referred to as a ‘gerontocracy’ – where expertise and power is concentrated in the older generation at the expense of the younger.
Youth unemployment in Italy hit over 30% this Spring but, behind the unemployment headlines, a deeper long-term crisis of succession is brewing. It’s a problem Italy shares with many other countries, with survey after survey highlighting growing concern about the shortage of suitable talent across the world. Lloyd’s Risk Index 2011, for example, reported that global business leaders ranked talent and skills shortages as their number two priority risk.
When the recessionary smoke finally clears, there may be a dearth of younger professionals with their predecessors’ expertise. The issue cuts across all professions, affecting both the public and private sectors, and insurance is no exception.
But the Italian picture is slowly changing, thanks to an unlikely band of revolutionaries from the industry itself.
In 2009, Lloyd’s General Representative in Italy, Enrico Bertagna brought together 18 of the most respected figures in the Italian insurance industry to set up Ugari – a project to help shape the next generation of insurers in Italy.
The first challenge was to raise the reputation of insurance amongst the public and in particular in the school system. As Enrico says, “Our ability to attract young talent is proportionate to the reputation and image of our industry.” The next was to develop strong training programmes, European-wide exchanges and encourage the wider industry to push talent management up the agenda.
In just two short years, more than 100 insurance professionals have been through the Ugari programmes and more than 300 are now members. One of them is Anna-Maria Amato, who joined the Ugari internship “U360 International” programme and, through it, gained a job in the Lloyd’s Coverholder team.
“ My professional development accelerated the moment I gained a place on the U360 programme, “ she says, “with the opportunity to work both at Generali global and Lloyd’s. Organisations like Ugari prove pivotal for broadening knowledge, exchanging ideas and discovering best practice. Wherever my career takes me I now have a network of expert professionals, helping me deliver the best results for my company.” “.
The Ugari approach is one Italian export that’s set to grow. In October, British, French, Italian and Dutch insurers’ associations held a pan-European conference focusing on the future of young European insurers. Amongst the speakers was the European Commission’s Head of Insurance & Pensions.
As talent development moves further up the agenda of the insurance industry, there is growing optimism that the insurance professionals of the future will be at least as expert, experienced and innovative, as those they replace.