Insurance Industry Has a Plan to Compete for Nation's Best Employees

July 7, 2015
The insurance industry faces a skills gap in the coming decade. Travelers is taking steps to help establish a pipeline of equipped candidates. 
That’s the most common word we hear when we ask teenagers and college students what they think a job in the insurance industry would be like. They also think it’s a business for “old people.” 
How do we counter that attitude? By letting them know about the vast opportunity ahead: The insurance industry is about to undergo a deep transformation. 
Twenty-five percent of insurance professionals will retire by 2018, according to David E. Coons of Jacobson Group, a research and recruitment firm serving the insurance industry. Additionally, the industry will need to fill 400,000 positions by 2020 to remain fully staffed. 
Now, more than ever, insurance needs diverse, skilled personnel to remain competitive in a continually developing global economy. 
Understanding that today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow’s workforce, Travelers launched its career pipeline program, Travelers EDGE® (Empowering Dreams for Graduation and Employment) in 2007. The purpose: Increase opportunities for underrepresented students to pursue a career in the insurance industry. 
The program is located in Hartford, Connecticut, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland, where Travelers partners with high schools and colleges to identify Travelers EDGE candidates. Once chosen, the Travelers EDGE scholars are provided with assistance to help them develop the talents needed by our civic and corporate communities. 
Travelers EDGE was not designed to give participants an easy path through college. While students in the program benefit from financial support and mentoring, they are held to challenging standards. Travelers EDGE scholars must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout their studies, while also routinely attending professional development workshops, job shadowing, and other related activities. Many work as interns as well. With our Capital Community College partnership, an internship is required: a 20-hour commitment in addition to a full schedule of classes, exams, and research papers. This program reinforces the importance of organization and time management, two vital characteristics for a successful career. 
Since 2007, 40% of the 315 Travelers EDGE scholars have interned at Travelers. About half of those interns have gone on to become Travelers employees, and the program boasts a 77% success rate for students completing a bachelor’s degree or remaining on track to graduate. 
At last year’s Travelers EDGE graduation ceremony, Travelers EDGE scholar C.K. Wang, a magna cum laude graduate of Central Connecticut State University with double majors in finance and accounting and—now—a Travelers employee, said it best: “I would not be here today without the support I’ve received from this program and the people around me.”
[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Co-Designing the Future: The Role of the Private Sector Partnering in Education].