January 30, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Robert Hoyt, Ph.D.: I think it is clear that the working environment and the necessary skills in insurance have been impacted by the pandemic in ways that will persistent. In some cases it has accelerated trends that were already underway (e.g., increased use of technology, expanded use of remote work, digital strategies). In other cases it has presented a business case for the importance of business resilience and the opportunities to interact with customers and business partners in new and efficient ways. The good news for our graduates is that opportunities in insurance will continue to grow in number and quality and emerging graduates who are digital natives will be perfectively positioned to help organizations embrace these new ways of doing business.
Robert Hoyt, Ph.D.: They are training for it now. Due to pandemic restrictions, they are taking classes in a hybrid environment with less face-to-face class time integrated with virtual interaction. Some of their classmates are restricted to their home countries and are joining virtually throughout the class. Group work in our courses is always important, but now they are having to working in teams through virtual platforms. This is how business will be done and it will be increasingly global given the convenience of engaging virtually without the cost of travel. In my opinion, the future work environment in insurance is going to look a lot like how we are educating students currently. However, thankfully, without the masks and with more opportunities for face-to-face socializing with clients and colleagues. As I note in more detail below, I think geographic limits will be much less important going forward due to the ability to be effective through virtual platforms and much more flexibility around where and when we work with be the norm.
Robert Hoyt, Ph.D.: The ability to collect information, work with data, and translate this into insights and knowledge is key in insurance going forward. An important focus in our classes is helping students apply what they are learning to real business situations through projects that are often carried out in teams. The growth of digital strategies in insurance means that emerging graduates are excited by and embrace the use and application of such approaches. However, the ability to engage with people to assist them in managing their personal or business risks is what matters most in this business. At the end of the day, building relationships and trust are the key in insurance.
Janet Ruiz: The mathematical mind, meet the meaningful purpose (Liberty Mutual). Underwriters are the heart of the insurance process, gathering and researching pertinent information and then, using finely tuned analytical skills to evaluate the acceptability of business and institutional risk. Underwriters are more than just analysts - they are the core relationship builders with agents and clients. They are responsible for managing a profitable portfolio of business by distributing agents and brokers. An underwriting career includes a dynamic blend of analytical and marketing skills. Research, Analytics, Communications, Relationship Building, Marketing.
Janet Ruiz: Underwriting jobs may be found at corporate home offices, specialized field offices, or regional offices of insurance companies. Insurance broker agencies also have underwriting positions. Commercial Business and Specialty, Auto and Homeowners insurance all use underwriters.
Janet Ruiz: Technology will continue to streamline and enhance the underwriting process. Underwriters need to understand digital tools, the use of artificial intelligence, working with technology to enhance work flow.
National Association of Health Underwriters
Max Wilson: The ability to communicate with others is an essential skill that I have noticed many young adults have trouble with. Many of my peers have expressed difficulty when attempting to start a conversation with others. As an agent, communication is key. One thing I have noticed in the months that I shadowed an agent from Colonial was that many business owners do not realize how affordable some insurance policies can be. It's on my generation to be able to communicate these policies in effective ways.
Max Wilson: Having exposure to the voluntary benefits side, I have noticed that there can be tremendous room for growth in a variety of densely populated areas such as Northern Alabama, or areas with large recent economic growth.
Max Wilson: Technology will allow agents to expand their services over a variety of industries. With the development of cybersecurity and telematics, I think there is no limit to what could be insured. When these services become available, we need agents to step up to the plate and inform the consumers.