Don’t leave our young insurance stars in a void – reach out and build bridges

Professor says insurance companies should work more closely with universities

Don’t leave our young insurance stars in a void – reach out and build bridges


By Bethan Moorcraft

The insurance industry recruitment drive is on! Companies across the US are working tirelessly to address the workforce gap that’s set to plague the industry within the next few years.

But are we making the most of the rich pickings at our doorsteps?

Insurance and risk management programs are starting to take-off at top universities and colleges across the US. These programs are attracting students who are fresh to the discipline and encouraged by the promise of an interesting and stable career - rather than candidates with family connections to the business, which often used to be the case.

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After studying hard to major in an insurance and risk management program, many students are then left stranded at the edge of a void. Where’s the connection between the schools and the industry?

“There’s a big disconnect between insurance companies and universities – and it’s on both sides,” said Courtney Baggett, assistant professor of Risk and Insurance at Troy University. “The insurance industry is still very much a relationships business and this needs to include the universities.

“Lots of academics who teach insurance programs at universities haven’t worked in the insurance industry, or if they did it was only briefly, so they don’t have relationships with people in the industry. Academics have conferences about insurance and the industry people have their own – there’s never a really good place to network from the standpoint of bringing universities and the industry together.”

From an academic viewpoint, Baggett’s not overly concerned about the so-called insurance workforce gap. Troy University has around 150 majors for insurance and risk management, which suggests millennials and gen-Xers are “interested in the business without a whole lot of industry messaging,” she said.

Only companies who connect with insurance schools will have access to this “exciting pool of candidates”. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, Baggett explained, because companies will end up with candidates of better fit and intention, and the insurance schools will expand and thrive by relation.

“If the goal is to bring in students that have a nice foundation and have chosen to go to college to gain this knowledge in insurance, then I think it’s really important for the industry to focus on developing some connections with the universities in their area, either by campus visits, over the phone or via email,” Baggett told Insurance Business.

“A big struggle for universities is not knowing who the point of contact is, especially for some of the smaller or mid-sized businesses without obvious HR departments. We know the company is there, but we don’t know who handles what within that company, so it’s hard to establish a relationship. There should be a person at the insurance company who has a connection with universities. Simply giving your company a face at university level would go a long way.” 

Related stories:
A millennial’s tips on how to draw young stars into the industry
Insurance industry is ‘terrific future for young people’: Patrick G. Ryan

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