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Training New Talent – My Trip to the YMCA Training, Inc.

01/25/2010

Many of us joke about how we got into the business (myself included) but the truth is simply that unless you are bound to this industry by genetics, insurance is not a career path many consider. And in many cases, as the industry landscape changes, genetics may not even be enough to keep us fully staffed.

Attracting new people into an industry that is complex, often misunderstood by the public, and retains a somewhat bad rap is difficult at best. Recognizing this challenge, our own Board of Directors has kept “Recruiting New/Young Talent” as a board objective for years, but producing the desired results has been tricky. Of course, we know that finding great candidates is not just a problem for Massachusetts.

What makes this so elusive? What make a great new candidate anyway? Experience and industry basics to start, but candidates who are already licensed, bilingual, and have a background in a related area such as customer service or finance have an advantage when they are brought in for interviews. This type of individual can do more than fill a seat, they can get to work immediately, even as they are being trained in the agency…but these candidates are few and far between.

In an attempt to close this gap, last fall MAIA and YMCA Training, Inc. (which is an arm of YMCA of Greater Boston) created a pilot program to educate and train prospective insurance professionals. This partnership takes the existing YMCA Training, Inc. programs in the fields of finance, administrative assistance and medical office staff and adds an insurance curriculum to the mix.

The Boston Globe covered this partnership in late December and had this to say about the newly expanded program:

Seven women participated in the pilot class this fall. They learned about property and casualty insurance, auto coverage, calculating risk and rating factors, and homeowner’s liability insurance, among other things. The trainees completed internships and will take a licensing exam in January. Three have already landed jobs, according to Anne Meyerson, director of YMCA Training. A new class – with 12 students – started earlier this month.

Over the course of the 20 week program, students learn a variety of skills outside of the insurance curriculum including general office and computer skills and resume writing. They also take part in business simulation labs, and hear from several guest speakers. The hope is that this recipe will get people hired into insurance positions. So far, results have been good.

After inquiring about the program with Heather Kramer, MAIA’s VP of Training and Education, she offered to bring me in to see this group in action. I visited their facility and spoke to the second class of participants last week. Coordinator Barry Gallagher was more than welcoming and he showed me around their newly renovated office, and even let me snap a few pictures.

As the group introduced themselves, I learned quickly that these individuals are all that Heather said they would be. These students come from varied backgrounds that stretch as far away as Ethiopia and as close to home as Boston. They speak many languages, they’ve held a variety of positions, but one thing or another has led them into this specific job training program. They were dressed to work, they were friendly and when I launched into my talk about E&O Insurance they all sat up and took notes.

In just a few words…this group is diverse, eager, and bright…and it is my pleasure to introduce the future of the insurance industry to you….

Current YMCA Training, Inc. Participants (and one very happy recent graduate)

I’d like to thank them for asking some great questions while we talked about loss control and the anxiety that comes with taking the licensing exam. It was a pleasure to speak with this group.

If your agency has questions about this program and would like to be involved in either the internship program or meeting a prospective candidate, I encourage you to contact Heather Kramer at hkramer@massagent.com.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/25/2010 4:38 pm

    nice article, thanks sharing to us

  2. Jason Hoeppner permalink
    02/01/2010 12:18 pm

    Melissa,
    Nice article on a challenge that many agencies looking to grow – or perpetuate, face frequently when looking for newer and younger employees. As you mention, it is usually through fate that we end up in the insurance industry, but this program, as well as getting the word out about the role insurance plays in the positive affects it has when one faces a tough loss, is a great step toward attracting excellent talent much earlier in their career progression.
    Jason

  3. 02/10/2010 1:02 pm

    Melisa,

    WAY TO GO! This is the type of grass-roots leadership that the insurance industry is sorely lacking. We need more events like this to recruit bright young talent into a rewarding career in the property/casualty industry. I can understand why the Boston Globe would want to write about this program!

    All the best!

    Jay

Trackbacks

  1. Insurance Industry Talent Crisis; A Solution! | Insurance Industry Talent Tracks by Jay D'Aprile

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