PHILADELPHIA—The insurance industry is facing a talent crisis.
The baby boomer generation is aging, and by the end of this decade there will be a serious deficit in qualified and experienced individuals to fill the ranks of executives shuffling off to retirement, say experts.
Facing this dilemma, a panel of insurance executives and educators gathered here at the Philly I-Day conference last week to discuss why this has become such an issue and what some are doing to solve it.
Illustrating the point, President and CEO Peter L. Miller of The Institutes says studies of the industry find the number of employees age 55 and over is 30 percent higher than any other industry.
With retirements, the industry will need to fill 400,000 positions by 2020.
Despite this deficit, and the employment opportunities, among the future job pool—high school students—over 40 percent say they are not interested in pursuing insurance as a career.
The industry is not ignoring the issue, and the panelists on Friday discussed strategies in use today to try and raise the profile of the industry to a younger generation, and fill those future job vacancies.
The most discussed tool among the panelist was internships. Michael E. Angelina, executive director, Academy of Risk Management & Insurance at St. Joseph’s University notes that at one time insurance companies developed the industry’s executives, but those education programs have been long abandoned.
“We see a growing recognition of the problem and need to get together to take care of it,” says Angelina.
In Ohio, state officials working with the state’s insurers have developed educational and internship programs to fill the growing job vacancies, says John Bishop, CEO of Motorists Mutual Insurance Group in Columbus, Ohio. He says the program aims to tell the industry’s story about the variety of careers available within the industry. The program includes “an impressive number of internships” available throughout the state’s insurance industry.
Philadelphia Insurance Cos. President and CEO Robert D. O’Leary calls internships a test drive for both the employer and student. Executives can quickly learn about an individual’s work habits and if they fit in with the company. Internees not only gain practical skills but also gain experience to decide if insurance is a career for them.
To successfully recruit a younger generation of executives it needs to develop a relationship with future employees at a young age, says Jason Terrell, program director for The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation. Individual companies spend too much time “doing their own thing around this topic” and need to “stop fighting against each other.”
“They are not getting ahead and are wasting resources,” says Terrell, adding the industry will only become successful at recruiting when it pulls together and works for a common cause.