The average age of an insurance professional in the U.S. is around 60 years old. Estimates place the giant wave of retirements coming our way at around 50% by 2020. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that between retirements and growth we’ll need to hire 400,000 people in the next decade. That’s a lot of people!
Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) programs at colleges and universities have become more popular over the last few years, but they still only exist at fewer than 100 out of the 3,000-plus institutions in the U.S. RMI programs produce amazing graduates, but they only feed 15% of our hiring needs each year! So 85% of our new hires come without any sort of insurance background or education. Each company has to take the full expense of training these new insurance pros, and retention is lower because those people haven’t committed to a career in insurance; they might still be testing the waters.
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At the same time, college has gotten more expensive, and total student loan debt stands at around $1.3 trillion! That debt is very scary to potential college students, and many are choosing to forego going to college to avoid going into debt. This is bad for their future employment, but it’s also a waste for us; we could use their talents if we just played our cards right.
This is where today’s crazy idea comes in. We should come together as an industry and ally ourselves with an online education provider such as Coursera. Coursera offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) from world class universities in video format, with intra-video quizzing, group projects, automated grading of multiple choice tests and student peer grading of papers. You can take almost any Coursera class for free, or you can pay a small fee to get a certificate proving you passed the class. Coursera even has cool technology to verify you’re doing your classwork yourself instead of paying someone else to take tests for you.
Currently, there is not a single insurance and risk management class on Coursera. The only classes that come up in a search have to do with health insurance exchanges or with product and portfolio financial risks.
See also: The Sad State of Continuing Education
We should come together as an industry and sponsor a free (or almost free) risk management and insurance program on Coursera, available to ANY student who is interested. We would work with the school to make sure the curriculum teaches them the things employers in the industry need them to know, and we could even split it into an “associate” type program meant to train customer service rpepresentatives (CSRs) for agencies and a more in-depth “bachelor” type program meant to train future underwriters, agents and claims and other industry professionals.
This could be a cost-effective way to make big strides toward solving our talent crisis, and it would help us improve our image overall. Who’s in?
This article originally appeared on InsNerds.com.