Flipping the Switch

The Griffith Foundation’s Insurance Education and Career Summit launched in September with the goal of creating an industry-wide initiative to attract young workers. Here’s what’s been happening since then.

Insurance is not an industry that needs an overhaul on how we do business or what we offer. However, few will deny that our industry suffers from an "image" problem. Case in point: No insurance or insurance-related company cracks the "Top 10 most desired employers" list referenced in a recent CNET.com article by Don Reisinger. In case you’re curious, the 10,000 recent college graduates with 1 to 8 years of professional experience surveyed put Google in the top spot, followed by Apple, Walt Disney, the Department of State and Amazon.com. The list rounds out with the FBI, Microsoft, the CIA, NASA and Teach for America. Clearly, technology companies have a strong image among young workers.

On the other hand, insurance is the victim of a "perception-versus-reality" misconception. And the best way to reverse this is to drum up some recognition—to shine a figurative light on our industry’s incredible offerings and tremendous potential for young professionals.

Contrast these numbers again with technology: A January 2011 study by the Career Advisory Board presented by DeVry University and conducted by Harris Interactive found 63 percent of Millennials believe the technology industry holds the most opportunity of any field over the next 15 years.

What’s Different Now?

At the conclusion of the 3 days, it was clear that some genuine enthusiasm and energy had been established. Carol Blaine, former director of program management from Nationwide Insurance, described the summit as "the most powerful discussion across the industry that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in the 35 years I’ve been in this great industry."

Timothy Mazurczak, a student at Canisius College, said, "I believe that the future of the industry has been changed as a result of this conference."

The report also recommends additional research for exploration. Proposed topics include facilities, environment/attitude, technology, training and development, onboarding practices and work/life balance issues. These topics must be fully understood to help the industry match deliverables to Millennial expectations

"As a representative of the academic community, we see the challenges the industry faces in attracting young talent. We have to grab their attention and tell them something that motivates them to take the next step and look into insurance," said Rob Hoyt, head of the risk management and insurance program at the University of Georgia. "This initial research is already pointing us in the right direction."

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