As we look to close our four-part series on talent-shortage crisis, we begin to look forward to better understand what the insurance industry can do to combat the impending deficiency of qualified leaders and personnel. To recap the major points of our Eleventh Hour series: baby boomers are retiring en masse, leaving a large hole in leadership; millennials are opting for other career opportunities, creating an incoming talent pool that is too shallow to meet demand; while technology looks to compensate for this shortage, it introduces its own dilemma in that it exposes the insurance industry’s lack of technical talent; and generation X, which should be stepping in to fill the immediate need for leadership being opened by exiting boomers, is far too thin in terms of population to adequately meet this need. What these crises make clear is that there is an immediate need for talented professionals educated in the nuances of the industry.
The Higher Education Pipeline
One of the most optimistic areas in regards to the future of insurance talent is American higher education institutions. More American colleges continue to expand their risk management and insurance (RMI) programs. Currently, only 51 colleges offer a version of the RMI program. Graduates of these programs enjoy a high rate of employment, with the top schools boasting virtually 100% employment rates. While this is highly encouraging, the current graduation rate looks to only meet 10-15% of the insurance talent needs.
Learning on the Job
While institutions of higher learning grow their RMI programs, there is still an enormous dearth of talent in terms of meeting the rising demand. This is where a certain amount of burden falls to the insurance industry to promote educational opportunities from within. In the past we’ve referred to Tony Cañas and Carly Burnham’s book Insuring Tomorrow: Engaging Millennials in the Insurance Industry. In this book Tony recalls the insurance companies of yore that offered incredible training opportunities for incoming employees. The insurance industry needs to more adequately prepare its current and incoming talent in order to effectively transition new leadership.
Meeting the Future
There is a clear gap in the acknowledgment of the industry’s growing shortage. As boomers continue to collect their gold watch and ride off into the sunset (or toward the Sunshine State), the demand for highly qualified and experienced leaders grows. But that demand is not reciprocated with a flourishing market. There comes a point when the industry must realize that the tree of leadership has long been picked, and it is time to grow a new generation of leaders. Companies must become creative and visionary, not looking for proven leaders, but instead looking for proven talent with leadership qualities.
The most difficult bridge to gap may be that of understanding. Recognizing there is a real and immediate dilemma is half the battle. The other half is responding. What we are already finding is that the most forward-thinking companies are already searching for tomorrow’s leaders in insurance. The talent pool of experienced leaders is not only shrinking, it’s all but dry, and many companies are engaging staffing experts, like The James Allen Company, with industry knowledge and experience. They leverage their experience to procure and place exceptional talent. We seek to truly understand our client companies and find future leaders that not only have the potential to provide long term success but also prove to be an immediate cultural fit. The best way to stay in front of the crisis is to partner with dedicated professionals with the experience to weather the storm.