Target: 3,000 new jobs over the next five years - The region's insurers take action by creating the Centre de développement en assurances et services financiers

    QUEBEC, Oct. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of the ACCORD initiative
coordinated by the Pôle Québec Chaudière-Appalaches, the 11 insurance
companies that have head offices in the region are taking action to ensure
their continued growth through the creation of the Centre de développement en
assurances et services financiers (Insurance and Financial Services
Development Centre).
    A non-profit organization, the Centre has a board of directors composed
of the 11 presidents of the insurance companies. Its chief mission is to
promote the many career opportunities available for young people, find ways to
improve the English language skills of existing and future employees, and tell
people about the industry and all it has to offer. The Centre will also focus
on expanding joint projects between the insurers and educational institutions.

    Three thousand new quality jobs will be created over the next five years

    The insurance and financial services industry is now recognized as a
niche of excellence in the region and employs over 8,250 people in various
fields. Over the next five years, 3,000 new positions, 40% of which will be
professional, will be created, not counting normal staff turnover and
departures due to retirement. In the last five years, the industry has already
shown net growth of 2,700 positions.
    The hiring of future quality candidates represents a major challenge for
the insurers, who are highly concentrated in the region. "Due to the presence
of our head offices, for example, insurance courses are being offered at some
of our Cégeps and Laval University. This in turn will give us access to an
excellent pool of resources," explained Yvon Charest, President of Industrial
Alliance and President of the Centre de développement. "The more jobs we have
here, the more spin-offs the critical mass will generate. To make this happen,
we must ensure we have the human resources we need to continue to grow here in
the region, with people from here," added Mr. Charest.

    Stimulating career opportunities

    The industry offers career opportunities that go well beyond actuarial
science and accounting. "Our employees are nothing like the old stereotype of
the insurance agent with his foot in the door, they're people involved in
leading edge work in several fields, from actuarial science to marketing, IT
systems to investment management. We do more than just insurance, we develop
complex financial products. We are exporters of services across the country,"
explained Mr. Charest.
    In addition to finding excellent working conditions in the region,
newcomers to the area will discover a wealth of opportunities in companies
that specialize in several different types of insurance and financial
services, small and large companies, mutual, cooperative and stock companies,
and companies that operate either locally or across the country.

    Growing importance of bilingualism

    The 11 insurers control 34% of the life and health insurance market and
42% of the property and casualty insurance market in Quebec. Some of them
already have a strong presence in the rest of the country, where they plan to
continue growing their business. "This is another challenge for us. Growth
outside Quebec has greatly increased the demand for bilingual employees. All
of our companies have English language development programs for their
employees, but we are more and more interested in hiring people who are
already bilingual. Many of our future employees will be working with
English-speaking clients and colleagues, and will be given the opportunity to
take language courses or spend part of their career in other Canadian cities,
from Vancouver to St. John's, Newfoundland," added Mr. Charest.

    The Centre

    The Centre has a simple structure with one permanent employee who works
on joint initiatives with the insurers' various employees, mainly in the areas
of communication and human resources. Its director, Mr. Gilles Juneau, spent
30 years working for two of the insurers in the region.

For further information:

For further information: Gilles Juneau, General Manager, Centre de
développement en assurances et services financiers, (418) 564-1976, Fax: (418)

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