Will College Students Fill the Growing Insurance Talent Gap?

Mar 21, 2024

Want to hear something that might surprise you? A 2021 Jacobson Group and Aon study found that 40% of college students were actively interested in a career in the insurance industry. And that’s compared with just 27% in 2018. But will it be enough to fill the growing talent gap in insurance?

The Advantages of Fresh Talent

At WAHVE, we’ve long believed in the advantages that young talent can bring to the industry. In addition to bringing a fresh perspective to the industry, the next generation offers:

  • Tech ability: Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Y are tech-savvy by nature. They have a short tech learning curve and can help overcome the technology adoption challenge.
  • Education: As a Rough Notes article posits, younger workers are more likely to come into the workforce with risk management and actuarial science degrees, giving them an instant edge[1].
  • Connectedness: Younger professionals are natural collaborators, thanks to growing up in a constantly connected world. They naturally seek out multiple perspectives and viewpoints and bring with them a desire to learn, work together, and grow. They are also more likely to value diversity and inclusivity.

What the Industry Offers

We’ve also appreciated the benefits our industry can offer the next generation looking for a career that fits their values and aspirations. For millennials and their younger counterparts, this may include:

  • Stability and job security: The insurance industry is stable, providing job security even in economic downturns.
  • Career opportunities: The insurance industry offers diverse career paths, including roles in sales, underwriting, risk assessment, data analysis, and technology. This variety can attract individuals with different skill sets and interests.
  • Global reach: As the insurance industry expands and transcends borders, it appeals to individuals interested in international business and diverse work environments.
  • Social Impact: Insurance plays a crucial role in risk management and financial protection. Working in insurance thereby allows individuals to contribute to the well-being of individuals and businesses by helping them manage and mitigate various risks.

Bridging the Gap

With over 11,200 Americans turning 65 each day[2] and 400,000 job openings expected in the industry over the next 12 years[3], the growing interest of college grads in the industry is encouraging but will not be enough to fill the gap.

WAHVE CEO Sharon Emek tackled this issue in a recent interview with the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS).[4] She says that if we look solely to college grads to solve the industry’s labor shortage, we’re overlooking a huge potential talent pool.

She offers these suggestions:

  • Tap two-year colleges. Most retiring baby boomers in the industry are not college graduates, yet “they’ve been the brains behind the business for years.”
  • Create mentorship and internship programs to attract young people across the labor spectrum, including underserved populations.
  • Consider retention initiatives. 23% of young people tend to job hop. At a minimum, we need to encourage job hopping within the industry.
  • Stop including “college degree required” on job ads. Don’t exclude talent that has the soft skills and can be taught the hard skills. For jobs such as customer service, for example, you can teach content, but you can’t teach empathy.  

Concluding Thoughts At WAHVE, we’re acutely aware of a company’s desire to find insurance talent that precisely matches the job requirements. If you want to avoid overlooking highly qualified candidates for your open positions, be honest about a role’s most important needs at the outset and keep an open mind about the types of candidates that will satisfy them.


[1] Grant, Grace. The Talent Pipeline that Independent Agents May Be Missing. Rough Notes. Jul 31, 2023.  

[2] Welcome to the Peak 65 Zone. Alliance for Lifetime Income. January 2024.

[3] The America Works Report: Industry Perspectives. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jun 1, 2021.

[4] Emek, Sharon. Applying AI to Solve the Talent Crunch and How to Avoid Its Pitfalls. AAIS. Mar 13, 2024.

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