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Catastrophe course could boost job prospects

A catastrophe study programme tailor-made for Bermudians starting later this year could boost job prospects in a reinsurance sector hard-hit by mergers.

“A big part of this programme was built with Bermudians in mind,” said Professor Igor Kamenkovich, of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“We spoke to several representatives from insurance companies, some from Bermuda, and they all told us that they need skilled workers with backgrounds in skills like data analysis, who at the same time would understand the science behind catastrophic events.” The master's degree course on Natural Hazard and Catastrophe Analytics was designed by Dr Kamenkovich with a former Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science researcher, Professor Dennis Hansell.

The pair visited the Island in September to promote the course, with the Island taking an unusual late-season double hurricane blow the following month.

For Dr Kamenkovich, an oceanographer, the destructive capability of hurricanes has personal resonance: his parents, who live near New Orleans, experienced first-hand the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

More than 1,500 people were killed in the state of Louisiana. “These types of events are getting more and more frequent, and more devastating in terms of damage to the economy,” he said.

“The World Bank estimates damage from these types of events to reach $200 billion a year.”

This includes catastrophic events such as floods, volcanoes and earthquakes as well as hurricanes.

So far, a long-distance offering of the course is not available — meaning locals seeking the extra qualification would have to travel for nine months of courses in Miami before embarking on internships of several months to earn a professional master's degree.

Catastrophes are inherently unpredictable, but as an oceanographer, Dr Kamenkovich knows they are on the increase.

“From my studies and what we are hearing elsewhere, the changing climate has a big impact on the frequency of these events. We don't fully understand why,” he said.

“We thought that this course could be a great opportunity for young people to apply for jobs in the private and public sector.

“In addition to the insurance sector, we also expect our graduates to look for jobs in the civil sector, such as emergency management or marine engineering.”

• For more information, log on to http://mps.rsmas.miami.edu/degree-program/natural-hazards-catastrophe/.

The wreckage of a boat after Hurricane Gonzalo - one of two hurricanes to hit the Island last October

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Published April 06, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 06, 2015 at 9:36 am)

Catastrophe course could boost job prospects

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