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As property/casualty industry grays, influx of millenials not enough

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The property/casualty insurance industry has a serious demographic problem that extends beyond young professionals: The industry needs older workers as well.

The talent issue demands multiple approaches, attendees said last week during the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ Insurance Leadership Forum.

One of the most significant sources of entry-level talent is college risk management and insurance programs.

“I’m still am very bullish on the next generation coming in because there are more than 40 schools with risk management and insurance programs,” said Hank Watkins, president of Lloyd’s America Inc. in New York.

While the industry can draw from college grads, it needs to invest in internships that pay off with a “great injection of energy in the workforce,” said Peter A. Gilbertson, executive vice president of Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. in Madison, New Jersey.

Millennial generation employees “are hard-working; they’re fun,” said Robert Cohen, chairman and CEO of Denver-based IMA Financial Group Inc. and newly elected council vice chairman. “They’re asking the right questions. They’re asking tough questions.”

“It’s all about talent acquisition,” said Steve Brockmeyer, president and CEO of the Bolton Co. of Pasadena, California, and immediate past chairman of the council. But the talent search isn’t confined to young recruits, he said.

“There’s a hole in talent” with 10 to 20 years of experience at agencies and brokerages, said Mr. Brockmeyer. “I don’t see a lot of insurance people in their 30s and 40s.”

Zurich North America in Schaumburg, Illinois, is about to launch another approach: an apprenticeship program, said Mike Foley, CEO of North America commercial and regional chairman of North America at Zurich.

The program, planned to start in January, will involve 25 students from a local community college who will work at the insurer while Zurich pays their tuition.

“If it works, we’re going to broadcast this to the industry,” Mr. Foley said.