Saving the best for last, Mitch Wilson garnered the coveted last presentation slot for this action-packed Exchange. Wilson, vice president of Public Information and Education for the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), a trade association for property and casualty companies, showed participants how this association is navigating the future for the industry.
Long a leader as an advocate for insurance and financial literacy within the state and across the nation, OII pioneered the concept of providing innovative educational programs for teachers. OII’s teacher education programs provide continuing education credit and help educators with lesson plans, literacy games, and computer-based edu-games. OII also provides an educator of the year award, now in its 30th year. The results? More than 1,300 Ohio educators access OII’s programs on an annual basis, providing real impact for the financial literacy initiative.
Recognizing financial literacy was only one leg of a three-legged stool, OII sought to do more to raise positive awareness of the insurance industry as a viable employment option to traditional and alternative audiences. OII started by bringing together a town-gown consortium to address the issue of workforce shortfall as the baby-boomer generation looked to retirement.
Initially focusing on high schools, the OII worked to determine how teens select a career and initiated a classroom-immersion project to answer the question, What’s important to teens when looking at a career? Only after that question was answered, could OII really answer the question of how to attract those individuals to the profession.
What a teen wants…
OII analysis determined that teens want:
- Financial reward
- Stability with flexibility
- To make a difference in the world
- Growth opportunity
- Diverse job market
- Cultural versatility: offices to entrepreneurship
With exact parameters established, OII worked to positively showcase how the insurance industry easily addresses each of those needs. (Insurance professionals will quickly realize this list isn’t even a stretch for the industry to answer.)
Next, OII determined to engage the age group by hiring a firm specializing in social media for outreach—speaking to teens exactly as they wish to be spoken to. Together, OII and the social media agency created a strong web presence—unique in the U.S. – www.InsuranceCareers.org .
But wait, there’s more
While OII’s work was moving forward, the Governor created an insurance industry CEO task force. From this effort, Ohio’s insurance industry pulled together and formed the Insurance Indusry Resource Council (IIRC), focusing on workforce development issues for Ohio’s insurance industry. IIRC determined the effort to just target teens was good, but not good enough. Recent studies indicate that, by 2018, the insurance industry in Ohio alone is facing a shortfall of more than 17,000 employees—this figure is solely for property and casualty companies—and includes not only insurance professionals but other professionals who work in the industry such as accountants, lawyers, and medical professionals. IIRC approahced OII with hopes to work jointly and increase the web presence to include career-changers and veterans.
The OIIand IIRC determined to approach institutions of higher learning to work to establish majors and/or classes around the insurance industry’s body of knowledge. Reaching out to colleges and universities to share knowledge also had the effect of raising the visibility of the industry as an attractive employment sector. This initiative has garnered the attention of universities, colleges and the office of the governor of the state of Ohio and the outreach is working. By 2013, four Ohio universities began offering insurance programs, certificates or degrees. Next year, three additional educational institutions will be offering programs.
IIRC and OII have made significant inroads in attracting teens considering careers, those in institutions of higher learning approaching careers and, finally, determined to reach out to those who are contemplating mid-career changes, including veterans, with its InsuringOhioFutures initiative (www.InsuringOhioFutures.com ).
The website features more than 30 different careers paths which explain how those paths lead to the insurance industry. Currently, paths are shown including legal, fraud, customer service, marketing, information technology and human resources. For each featured position, OII’s website has an informational page, job titles, duties, educational requirements, salary and the employment outlook (Ohio and national). In addition, video clips appropriate for diverse ages tell the career tale. Success metrics are impressive: OII’s sites have garnered more than 20,000 hits and the launch of one site attracted more than 700 hits on day one.
What will OII do next?
More is planned for this innovative, evolving outreach plan. OII envisions that soon:
- Those accessing OII town-gown websites will have the ability to talk directly to an appropriate insurance professional to create networking connections,
- More institutions of higher learning will provide insurance sector-specific educational paths, and
- Outreach will continue with everyone from teens to industry giants to continue workforce development awareness.
To coin a phrase, Ohio’s insurance industry is in good hands…OII’s.
Click here  to view Wilson’s presentation
VP – Public Information & Education
Ohio Insurance Institute
172 E. State St., Suite 201
Columbus, OH 43215-4321