Black actuaries needed

  If South Africa is to tackle the acute shortage of actuarial skills with success, the country must offensively prepare its black pupils to join the prestigious profession.

This view was expressed by Mathias Sithole, Actuarial Manager at Liberty Life, who noted that South Africa’s actuarial sector was facing a serious shortage of qualified and experienced professionals.

Demand for experienced actuarial professionals is on the rise at the back of tightened legislation that requires more diligent management of risk in the financial sector and in particular insurance sectors across the world. Latest statistics indicate that South Africa has about 800 actuarial fellows with less than 50 across the rest of the African continent. Actuarial skills are highly mobile because they are in short supply across the world and their qualification is largely internationally standardized allowing them to move between different parts of the world with ease.

ithole said one of the biggest challenges facing the actuarial sector in South Africa is the lack of black matriculants who are currently looking towards careers within the industry. “Lack of information, resources and career guidance continues to be a major obstacle in promoting actuarial science as a viable career path. This is especially true for those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Sithole noted that there are a number of industry initiatives in place to tackle the problem. “The Association of South African Actuaries is working closely with the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals and the industry at large, to raise awareness about the profession amongst the public from school students’ right through to office workers.”

“The Actuarial Society of South Africa through its Diversity Committee has also launched initiatives such as Actuaries on the Move, which involve qualified actuaries mentoring students from previously disadvantaged communities looking to pursue a career in the field,” said Sithole.

“At Liberty Life we also take the slow transformation of the industry seriously and have put in place an Actuarial Development Programme, a departmental specific initiative aimed at developing actuarial expertise among previously disadvantaged persons by offering scholarships and mentoring to potential students, as well as sending out senior actuarial staff to university career days to offer career guidance.

He said increased regulation has also provided a number of new opportunities for newly qualified graduates, making it a truly viable career choice for promising students.

Sithole said financial services regulation such as Solvency Assessment and Management has created an increased demand for actuaries not just in South Africa but also globally. “A key concern for the local sector is qualified and experienced actuaries being headhunted by international companies”.

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