The University of Olivet Helping to Fill Job Void in Michigan Insurance Industry

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Many young children imagine themselves in the role of a firefighter, veterinarian, police officer, scientist or lawyer. Fast forward 18 years and any high school senior can choose from an abundance of college degree programs that support these type of careers.

Although few kindergartners ever exclaim that they want to be an insurance agent when they grow up, more and more of them are choosing that career path when they enter college. Especially in Michigan.

Award Winning Insurance Program

The University of Olivet is one of few institutions in the nation with an award-winning insurance program that has groomed many students into successful insurance agents, underwriters, claims adjusters and risk managers, since it was first named as a concentration in 1981.

In a recent online article published by MiBiz, the Michigan insurance industry was highlighted as a growing economic sector for the state, employing “41,000 people in Michigan and overall support[ing] 114,000 jobs directly and indirectly.”

In addition, it was reported that within the next decade 40 percent of Michigan insurance professionals will reach retirement age, leaving more than 60,000 insurance-related job positions that will need to be filled, not including new job creation. Many insurance companies and industry associations are quickly recognizing that there is an even greater need to excite and attract high school and college students to the industry and choose insurance as a career.

Reaching Out to Young People

To front this issue, the Insuring MI Future campaign, sponsored by the Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM) and the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, works with industry partners, to reach out to young people and educate them about the opportunities available in the insurance industry and provide them with information that will guide them to great careers. Much of this information is accessible right at their tech-savvy fingertips through the campaign’s website and on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

IIM Director of Communications Lori Conarton explained that not only are these channels a resource for young people, but parents and teachers can also learn more about the types of careers available – as many as 33 different jobs with average wage, growth, skills and education levels are listed online.

“The website includes a listing of Michigan educational institutions which offer insurance degree/certificate programs,” Conarton said, including The University of Olivet. “Students can find a comprehensive list of scholarships available for those pursuing an insurance degree. There is also an internship and jobs board for those people who are looking to change careers or graduating and seeking a job in the insurance industry.”


Preparing Students Early

In addition, an innovative program was developed in Michigan to provide high schoolers with a year-long insurance class where they can fulfill not only high school credit, but also earn nine free college credits to The University of Olivet or Ferris State University.

Through this program, students attend classes at an insurance company for two hours a day, learning state-certified insurance curriculum through job shadowing, internships and hands-on experience onsite at the host company. The program, initiated by The University of Olivet and the Eaton Regional Educational Services Agency, is in its fifth year. This past fall, other Michigan school districts welcomed similar programs in both Genesee and Ingham County.

Blayne White ’15 and Eric Dawdy ’15 were the first two students to have earned college credit while in high school from the program; both are now The University of Olivet graduates working as professionals in the insurance industry.

Learn more about the insurance and risk management program.


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