Underwriters in South Africa will now be professionally recognised with the introduction of the first ever formal underwriter occupational qualification. The Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) has completed a successful pilot project to deliver an Occupational Certificate: Insurance Agent (Insurance Underwriter).
For many working in the underwriting section of short term, long term, medical insurance and reinsurance, career mobility has previously been hampered by the lack of qualifications. This has changed with INSETA introducing the first ever South African Qualifications Authority underwriter occupational qualification.
“It has been a successful pilot, with more than 60 candidates entering the programme. We initially received many more applications, but candidates had to qualify in terms of their industry experience, as this is a Level 5 qualification,” explains Nasreen Ravat, Acting Quality Assurance Division Manager, INSETA QA Division.
Underwriters are often referred to as the gate keepers of an insurance company. As such, Ravat says that the purpose of the qualification is, “To prepare candidates to evaluate and interpret information to protect stakeholders’ interests by using specialist technical knowledge to determine, price, manage and transfer risk.”
Ravat explains, “The course is divided into face-to-face lectures, to provide the knowledge component, assignments that speak to the practical application of the knowledge to the industry and each person’s workplace experience, created as an individual Portfolio of Evidence (PoE). The course can be completed in 12 months but there is a further six months available to allow candidates to complete their PoE or assignments.”
Students who have already qualified say that not only do they now have the formal qualification to their names, but their careers have been boosted. Michelle Coenraad says, “I’ve been able to provide input to my department on legalities, which I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to do before. As underwriters, we have a difficult task and we needed this course to get the recognition we deserve”
Idah Shimika of Affinity Health meanwhile quips, “I think that it can easily be achieved in 12 months and I have already recommended the course to two of my colleagues.”
Coenraad and Shimika, like many others, joined because although they have years of experience in underwriting, they did not have a qualification.
Ravat concludes, “The industry indicted that there were many people in the sector, who had extensive experience in underwriting, but lacked formal qualifications in finance or insurance. They needed the recognition of their experience in order to be in line for promotion or career advances.”
Companies in the financial services industry are encouraged to put forward their candidates with their CVS and a motivational letter to INSETA for assessment.
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.