Engaging the Workforce of Tomorrow – Today

Letters

BY LISA KROUSE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JUL 13, 2019

If you have been staying current on business trends, then you know about the shortage of workers in numerous industries. According to Department of Labor statistics, as of January of this year, the U.S. economy had 7.6 million unfilled jobs but only 6.5 million people looking for work.

What makes this situation more urgent is the ongoing mass retirement of baby boomers. Statistics indicate roughly 4 million will retire each year for at least the next decade.

According to a report released in late 2018 by the Manpower Group, “Solving the Talent Shortage,” 46 percent of U.S. employers say they can’t find people to hire with the skills they need. For large organizations–those with 250 or more employees–the figure rises to 58 percent.

In the insurance industry, the situation is particularly dire. The unemployment rate sits at 1.7 percent— well below the national average of 3.9 percent. Boomers dominate the insurance industry: the average age in the insurance industry is 59 and there are more than 150,000 workers over 65 still employed. With the massive exodus of retiring workers, the industry will be looking to fill 400,000 jobs by the year 2020, and 50 percent of the current workforce will be retired by 2030.  

Terrifyingly, according to the grassroots collaboration Insurance Careers Movement, fewer than 5 percent of millennials are interested in the insurance industry.

Locally, the situation at FCCI Insurance Group aligns with national insurance industry numbers. By 2025, more than 50 percent of FCCI’s workforce will be over the age of 50. We have known for years that our workforce would be in need of an influx from younger generations. So what have we been doing about it?

One strategy we’ve implemented is to invite young talent to get an inside look at our industry through the FCCI summer intern program. Our interns have become our best industry ambassadors, as they understand that working in insurance is a great career choice for reasons including competitive compensation, personal growth and job stability.

On July 12, we presented our inaugural “Career with a Purpose Day” program for interns looking to learn more about careers in the insurance industry. Our hope was that they would leave the event understanding that there is meaningful and fascinating work within our industry, with a wide variety of skill sets and interests represented.

We are also collaborating with local partners to help us better understand the climate in which we are operating, and strategies that can help to replenish our workforce. In 2018, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative planned and presented a report on the skills gap in the local insurance industry, listing numerous actions that could help attract younger workers.

Mireya Eavey, chief workforce officer for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge, says the survey made it clear students don’t understand insurance or the opportunities available within the industry. “We have to tell the story in schools,” she says. “The biggest thing is rebranding — highlighting this industry of work focused on helping others while offering good-paying jobs.”

Chris Laney, director of education and community investment for CareerSource Suncoast, notes insurance has been at the top of our region’s workforce efforts in recent years. “What CareerSource has found is that it begins with planting seeds in middle and high school students’ minds about the opportunities that exist in the insurance industry to begin creating a pipeline of individuals interested in the field,” he tells us.

We have been grateful for the support from our local universities. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, working with insurance industry leaders, recently added a Risk Management & Insurance program. The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota also offers courses in risk management and insurance services and provides supplemental training for those currently employed in the field.

If our industry—as well as others suffering from the worker shortage—is to continue to grow and thrive, we must focus considerable effort and resources in reaching new generations. We believe our region will play a major role in leading the way in the insurance industry.

Lisa Krouse is a Board member, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer of FCCI Insurance Group.

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