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Ohio's Insurance Industry Needs 26,000 Workers By 2020

By Arundi Venkayya, Dayton Daily News, Ohio
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

April 05--Ohio's insurance industry needs an additional 26,000 skilled workers by 2020, according to an announcement this week by Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

The announcement, which cites a 2013 study by Regionomics and the Insurance Industry Research Council, identifies a talent gap as a problem for the industry. Combined with some growth in the sector, a significant number of people are retiring and there aren't enough people to fill those jobs.

"Those openings are coming from the need for replacement workers," said Jane Dockery, associate director of Wright State University'sCenter for Urban and Public Affairs. "There's growth and there's replacement need and that's usually where the pain point comes for these employers."

Mike Goldman, Miami University director of career services, said he hears from recruiters for insurance companies regularly about the need for more people.

"It's a demographic cliff both for the agents and the administrative support staff ... it's the aging of the workforce in general. They've seen their forecasts," he said. "They're trying to fill up their pipeline with people who will be fully trained by 2020."

According to the report, "Private sector insurance carriers and related activities in 2010 contributed $17.4 billion" to Ohio's GDP. The state had 37 percent growth in the industry between 2002 and 2010, which was larger than the national growth average of 32 percent.

The state has almost 95,000 people working in the insurance industry in 2011, making it a significant economic driver, the report said.

Dockery said the industry has had "model growth." The center, she said, did some report work for the Ohio Board of Regents related to the insurance industry in 2011.

As part of that work, the center convened a group of employers. What they learned is that many of the jobs in the industry that didn't use to need college degrees are now requiring them, she said.

"They have to be able to do quite a bit more than in the past," Dockery said. "Technology has affected these jobs like others."

The jobs available are relatively high paying for college graduates, Dockery said. Sales agents are typically licensed, have a degree and earn $50,000 a year and up. In some cases, the jobs may pay in the mid-$60,000 range.

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There are pockets of areas that have significant industry job growth, like Clark County, the report said. CodeBlue has more than 200 employees already. According to information from JobsOhio and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Clark County is expected to see a 25 percent increase in agencies, brokerages and other insurance-related activity between 2014 and 2020. Montgomery, Miami and Greene counties are expected to see slight decreases or remain flat.

The problem for those areas may have trouble finding workers because of the smaller total workforce and fewer college graduates, the report said.

At the University of Dayton, there isn't a specific strategy to address the insurance industry need but, "Our career services has seen growing interest from insurance companies and assists those companies in finding interested students," according to a statement from the university.

Goldman said recruiters from all over the country come to Miami looking for students. They include Allstate, Aetna, Cincinnati Financial, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide and Unum. They definitely are looking for students with strong skills but they don't have to be focused in a specific major, he said. There are some cases where specialized skills in IT or actuarial work are needed but in general, recruiters are looking for broader skills.

Miami's curriculum, he said, teaches problem solving, communication and critical thinking skills that are necessary to be successful in any organization. Additionally, he said, the school teaches leadership and collaboration. Add to that networking opportunities created by alumni and technical training programs insurance companies have and those students are likely to be successful.

"There's no one major anymore," Goldman said. "It's a skill set. They are recruiting across all majors."

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(c)2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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