Where will the next generation of employees come from? Invest encourages high school and community college students to join independent insurance agencies by teaching them the skills they will need to be successful.
When speaking with other agents locally and abroad, the No. 1 question I hear is: Where will the next generation of employees come from?
There seems to be a lack of younger people coming into the industry, let alone our agencies, and the colleagues we already work with are disappearing as baby boomers look towards retirement.
Where are the next account managers, customer service representatives, producers and claims representatives going to come from and who is going to help us find them? For independent agents, we don't have to look much further than Invest℠, a 50-year-old 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that helps encourage high school and community college students to join independent insurance agencies by teaching them the basic skills they will need to be successful in their careers.
In 1970, Invest was formed at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles to educate students to become better insurance consumers. Over time the program evolved—and with Invest celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it now teaches insurance agency operations while showing students how rewarding an insurance career can be.
Today, Invest supports over 895 programs in 47 states with 31,400 students participating in the last 10 years. One of their graduates, Lindsey Shank, now serves as the Board Chair of Invest, in addition to her duties as operations lead at Hull & Company in Florida.
Invest is working with over 90 colleges that offer insurance as a certificate, associate degree or four-year program and has an alliance with Gamma Iota Sigma, an academic fraternity organized to promote, encourage and sustain student interest in insurance and risk management. I have also been a proud Board member of Invest for the past two years.
In addition to helping to secure talent, Invest is also working to make sure that the next group of agency leaders is a diverse one. In June, Invest partnered with Latinos In Insurance Networking for our Community (LiNC) to host virtual insurance educational seminars for Los Angeles high school students. Topics included an introduction to insurance, managing risk, careers in insurance, resume building and interview skills. The eight-week program was taught by local insurance professionals.
While Invest has been hard at work for you and the independent insurance agency system for the past 50 years, we could use your help expanding our reach and filling all those soon-to-be empty seats in your office.
There are three ways you can help: be a grassroots champion for Invest, hire an apprentice, and consider making a donation.
Invest has done an amazing job getting their curriculum into high schools, but many school systems have yet to be introduced to this terrific program and its benefits. For example, we need champions for the cause in roughly 800 public high schools in the New England area.
We are looking for individuals who are willing to approach the schools in their communities to introduce the Invest curriculum and find teachers willing to participate in the project. Most states have adopted financial literacy requirements for their students—and the Invest curriculum aligns with those guidelines. While the primary focus has transitioned over the years into teaching students about careers in insurance, the program still teaches students to understand money and become wise consumers.
Schools are always looking for guest speakers like you—or guest “Zoomers" as we call them in the coronavirus era—who can periodically join a math, finance or economics class to impart the wisdom gained from your insurance career. This is a great opportunity to showcase how an Invest program operates and how much students would gain from it. And as the guest teacher, you will have an inside track on finding future employees from the class.
In January, the Department of Labor approved Invest's National Insurance Apprenticeship Program. Apprenticeships have traditionally been the domain of the trades, but Invest's vision is to create an earn-as-you-learn program that will benefit the apprentice, the insurance agency and the industry as well.
“To close the talent gap that currently exists within our industry, we must be creative and innovative in the way we compete for new talent," says Deborah Pickford, executive director of Invest, which has already started to partner with local Big “I" state associations and agencies to develop local apprenticeship programs. If you're interested, reach out to your local association to discuss this rewarding opportunity.
For half a century, Invest has been introducing students to the world of insurance and providing schools with free learning resources thanks to agents like you and our partner companies. As we look to expand the program, our reliance on you is greater than ever.
In honor of Invest's 50th anniversary of helping to shape the future leaders of our industry, I ask that you consider donating $50 to the program. Donations can be made online and are tax-deductible.
With your help, Invest will continue to assist agents like you to bridge the talent gap well into the future.
Glen E. Davis is a member of the Invest Board of Directors. He is operations manager of Eldredge & Lumpkin Insurance.