Typewriter repairman, elevator operator, chimney sweep. Those are just a few careers that may continue to exist in small, novel ways. But, thanks to technology and aging employees, they won’t show up on any “hot jobs” list any time soon. OK, ever again. But not all jobs with a steeply declining employee base lived out their usefulness in the horse-and-buggy era.
Take insurance agents, for example. A very necessary job in a still essential profession has suffered dramatic setbacks in recent years. “It can be a little surprising to see some of the professions that are no longer drawing in a steady flow of younger workers,” said Robert Brandmen, a former jobs analyst with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Something as relevant as the insurance industry may not be top of mind for college graduates because they may associate agencies with storefront offices on Main Street, not the 50th floor of a building in Manhattan.”
Deborah Black, an insurance analyst for Bank of America’s small business group, added that the industry is filled with people who’ve practically grown up in the field. “My dad was an agent for State Farm in the 1970s, so I would do odd jobs around his office in the summer,” she said. “I worked there in high school and in college, so I’ve been able to mold my skills to what the industry needs.”
David Chipp, assistant vice president and wholesale insurance broker at Brown & Riding, shared a similar story. Chipp began working with a managing general agent to help pay for college. Although he had no experience in the industry at the time, Chipp said he quickly learned the ropes and turned his part-time job into a career. He said it’s a strategy that can be passed down to current students. “I think it starts from the bottom with recruiting young people interested in insurance as they go into school, or also recruiting on campuses as people are graduating, and letting them know what opportunities are there in the insurance industry right out of college with just a bachelor’s degree,” said Chipp in Insurance Business Magazine.
Speaking at the 2017 Insurance Risk & Capital Conference, Jonathan Reiss, group chief financial officer for Hamilton Insurance Group, said the industry has done a poor job bringing in younger employees to train for future management positions. As a result, it will be difficult to fill the positions of the nearly 300,000 managers who will retire in 2018 and beyond.
To attract new talent, HR will need some help drawing in younger workers. “The insurance industry is a terrific future for young people. We just have to communicate it more effectively,” Ryan said. “It’s important that recruitment not just be a HR operation but that executives also take the time to go and meet with young people and recruit them personally.” Chipp agreed. “Exposing young professionals to the different sides of insurance is helpful in them making a decision on where they see their opportunity to be successful.”
While the days of the Pony Express are long gone, the same principles that laid the groundwork for not only the U.S. Postal Service but also for FedEx, UPS and the Amazon delivery van still hold true: Find quality people who will provide a quality service. Insurance companies will continue to use a foundation of serving others to build a new structure with today’s technology. When looking to attract new talent, it’s important that they emphasize their possibilities, not just their past. If they can, they’ll find more than enough forward-thinking workers to help guide the industry into the future.