PSTF: Allianz warning over long-term IT problems

A senior insurance technology specialist has criticised the effect that outsourcing is having on the pool of IT talent within the UK market.

Gary Mason, systems development director at Allianz UK, said the insurance sector is failing to attract enough new blood, despite the high proportion of unemployment among IT graduates.

He suggested said the insurance industry's moves to off-shore IT functions has intensified the fall-off in graduates being given positions within insurers' UK operations.

Mr Mason added the dearth of jobs could create long-term problems within the UK insurance industry.

Without mentioning how many IT graduates Allianz recruited this year, Mr Mason pledged to double the intake next year and called on other employers within insurance to do the same.

"If we do not bring in graduates, where will our future leaders come from?" he asked delegates.

Quoting figures produced by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of technology graduates entering the financial services sector were 630, 460 and 365 during the years 2006/7, 2007/8 and 2008/9 respectively. While the numbers also fell in the telecommunications sector they were considerably higher at 2270, 1890 and 1000 in the same respective years.

Mr Mason said the drop-off in numbers was "alarming, even taking offshoring into consideration" and he acknowledged that Allianz's internal figures formed a similar pattern.

Referring to the same set of statistics Mr Mason said that at 17%, a higher portion of 2009 graduates in computer science were unemployed after graduating, than those in most other disciplines.

He compared this to the Indian IT outsourcing market, which he said has grown from being worth $19bn (£11.8bn) in 2005 to$47bn last year, and is forecast to be at \$88bn in 2014.

Mr Mason said that while the insurance industry moves towards wider use of technology, it is employing fewer young people with the relevant skills. He added that more needs to be done to demonstrate to them that insurance is a technology-driven industry that provides interesting challenges and opportunities.