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A.M. BEST'S MONTHLY INSURANCE MAGAZINE



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Filling a Need

As the demand for skilled software developers vastly outpaces supply, Liberty Mutual is sending employees to coding boot camps to fill the talent gap.
  • Lori Chordas
  • July 2018
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The classified ads will soon be filled with postings for software developers.

More than 253,000 developers will be needed in the United States by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, American universities are anticipated to graduate less than one-third of the developers required in the next five years, according to reports.

Liberty Mutual has created a way to help fill the talent gap. In 2016, the insurer introduced an immersion program that sends current employees to coding boot camps to improve their software development skills. GoForCode is part of Liberty Mutual’s broader effort to increase training and professional development. Liberty Mutual is the fourth-largest U.S. property/casualty writer, ranked by 2017 net premiums written, according to A.M. Best.

Since its launch, more than 280 employees have attended or graduated from the GoForCode program.

Last year, Karin Conroy, a Liberty Mutual employee for more than 30 years, completed a month-long Java boot camp, along with a 12-week Java course at the Software Guild where she learned the basics of the programming language. The Software Guild is a programming boot camp that teaches Microsoft .NET and Java development skills.

Conroy said the boot camps’ self-paced online classes, in-office workshops and in-classroom trainings in areas such as front-end web development helped prepare her for a new role as a Java developer on Liberty Mutual’s customer success, corporate functions team.

GoForCode is taught by in-house and external technology professionals, including former Microsoft and IBM staffers.

The program was the brainchild of Liberty Mutual CIO James McGlennon. He wanted to upskill internal staffers, who are already immersed in the corporate culture, and teach analysts to write code to help fill the deficit of available software developers in the industry.

In its first year, the GoForCode program had 15 employees across four cohorts as part of a standard public code school curriculum. In 2017, Liberty began working with several code school vendors to create a curriculum tailored to the company’s specific business needs, said Angela Dannar, director of Liberty Mutual’s technology learning.

Last year, 237 Liberty Mutual employees in 10 cohorts, including Java, web front end and user experience design, attended a coding school. This year, the company is running two cohorts through the coding school experience.

Programs like GoForCode address "the new era of the business of insurance," said Deb Smallwood, CEO and founder of strategic advisory firm Strategy Meets Action.

The industry is inundated with new external influencers such as an insurtech explosion and changing customer demands. "There’s also a new paradigm shift in technology where we’ve evolved from transaction-based mainframe to client servers to web-based software. Now it’s a new era of computing with real-time digital, cloud-based platforms with microservices," Smallwood said.

That is creating the next generation of insurance IT professionals with a new set of skills and mind set, she said.

Software development recently pushed the health care field out of the No. 1 spot to become "the best job" in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of top jobs.

By 2024, the need for software developer jobs in the United States is expected to grow 17%—much faster than the average rate among other professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The dearth of that talent isn’t an issue restricted to U.S. businesses. For instance, Europe is faced with an anticipated shortfall of up to 900,000 developers by 2020, according to TechTarget.

(Lori Chordas is a senior associate editor. She can be reached at lori.chordas@ambest.com.)


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