Education Is Key as Ohio Insurance Industry Launches Insuring Ohio Futures Career Awareness ProgramPosted March 25, 2013
Insurance companies in Ohio face a dramatic shortage of career professionals, a talent gap that could harm the industry’s standing as an economic engine for the state. A public-private partnership is now taking concrete steps with the launch of Insuring Ohio Futures, the first effort in the nation designed to attract skilled workers to the insurance sector.
A study conducted by Columbus State Community College’s (CSCC) Center for Workforce Development found that more than 17,000 new jobs in the insurance sector will need to be filled in the next five years as baby boomers begin to retire, leaving behind a critical shortage of skilled workers. The study also points to career openings at nearly every level of Ohio’s 256 insurance companies.
“Thanks to Gov. Kasich’s leadership, insurance industry leaders developed a comprehensive plan to increase awareness, provide more training opportunities, and ensure these high-paid, high-skilled positions are filled by a new generation of trained professionals,” says Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.
Ohio is the seventh largest insurance state in the nation with more than 100,000 employees and an annual statewide economic impact of nearly $6 billion.
The launch of Insuring Ohio Futures and the InsuringOhioFutures.com website begins the process of recruiting the next generation of insurance employees to the industry and helping to maintain Ohio’s place as a leader in insurance.
“While there is no quick fix to the talent gap, an awareness program is an important first step,” says Jim Clay, leader of the Westfield Group, and co-chair of the Insurance Industry Resource Council (IIRC), the consortium of 13 Ohio insurance companies that are leading the effort. “Insuring Ohio Futures will serve as a catalyst to attract talent to the industry, and the website is a fantastic resource for anyone, especially those that have never considered a career in insurance.”
“Baby boomers formed the foundation for our industry’s success,” says John Bishop, chairman and CEO of The Motorists Insurance Group and co-chair of the IIRC. “Today we need to solidify those gains by giving a new generation the skills needed for this industry to thrive in the future.”
Education Leads the Way
The event at Kent State University is the first of a series of regional events designed to highlight key elements of the Insuring Ohio Futures program, in this case, the focus on higher education and outreach to students.
Kent State’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Todd Diacon says, “Ohio high school and college graduates represent the best chance for filling the 17,000 insurance job openings expected in Ohio by the end of the decade. Thousands of graduates enter the workforce each year, and those with insurance-related degrees have a near 100 percent placement rate.”
The insurance sector is a good fit for today’s younger generation, a talent segment searching for stable, well-paying careers and an opportunity to make a difference. These characteristics are reflected in many of the openings in the insurance sector, but research shows that few students know about the opportunities the industry has to offer.
“Colleges and universities have a critical role in closing the insurance sector’s talent gap,” says Carol Blaine, who helped launch the insurance program at Kent State. Blaine, who took her current position after a career at Nationwide Insurance, believes the industry cannot thrive without a highly trained workforce. “The industry is working closely with higher education to develop the next generation of insurance professionals and ensure that graduates meet the needs of the insurance companies around Ohio.
The IIRC has identified three key target audiences that will have a lasting impact on the insurance talent gap. Students, career-change professionals and military veterans each bring a unique ability to address the industry’s talent shortage. That audience now has easy access to information about the wide array of insurance positions and opportunities that are available.
InsuringOhioFutures.com is live and stands ready as a vital and inclusive resource for those interested in exploring career opportunities in the insurance industry. The website clears up misconceptions about the industry (namely, that there is more to insurance than sales positions) and offers the following information and tools:
- Ask a Pro: Allows job seekers to ask questions and connect with seasoned insurance professionals.
- Career Survey: Offers job seekers a tool to learn more about possible insurance career paths, which align with their goals, interests and skills.
- Career Paths: Offers insight on popular insurance careers including details on each profession, daily responsibilities, educational requirements, important skills, average salaries and projected job outlook for the Ohio industry.
- Resources: Provides information for students, veterans and career-changers to make informed decisions on an insurance career.
- Videos: Offers the ability to hear firsthand testimonials from insurance professionals regarding the wide range of opportunities in insurance.
- Ohio Insurance Industry Information Bank: Provides company listings by one of five Ohio regions, as well as direct links to the companies’ career resources and to available insurance jobs in Ohio.
For more information about Kent State’s degree in insurance studies, visit www.col.kent.edu/insurance or call 1-877-KENT-EDU.
About Insurance Industry Resource Council
The Insurance Industry Resource Council (IIRC) is collaboration of 13 Ohio insurance companies that have aligned for a statewide career awareness initiative to address the coming industry talent gap. Formed in 2012 after Governor John Kasich challenged the industry to develop a long-term strategy to combat the talent shortage, the IIRC has overseen the building of a public-private coalition consisting of insurance companies, insurance trade associations, institutions of higher learning and public officials all focused on attracting new talent to Ohio’s insurance industry.