I read with interest Ernesta G. Procope's article, "It Is Hip to Be Square," in the December 2006 issue of Risk & Insurance®. She rightly points out the need to enhance the profile of risk management and insurance among young people as they begin to make choices about their career directions. I agree with her assertion that we as an industry need to focus those efforts early on.
A 2005 ACT report found that 78 percent of middle-school and early high-school students had already started thinking about and exploring the types of education, training or employment they might pursue following high school.
But there is a much bigger challenge than creating a curriculum or providing mentors. Research has demonstrated consistently that parents have a great deal of influence on their children's career choices. If those parents have a negative view of our industry, it stands to reason that they would be less likely to encourage their sons and daughters to join our ranks.
We are members of a noble profession born from a tradition of helping people. And that tradition is still very much alive. We help people understand and avoid risk. In the event of a loss, we help people rebuild their lives and businesses. We help people live in the security of knowing that their assets are protected.
By building an ethical and educated work force, we can help to strengthen the trust the American public has in us. By increasing the visibility of our good works and the fine professionals we employ, we will draw more young people into our industry.
We as an industry can do a better job of teaching America's middle- and high-school students about the many benefits of a career in risk management and insurance. Through industrywide cooperation, we could elevate the image and desirability of a risk management and insurance career.
Procope mentions industry organizations that could be involved in this issue. To that list, I suggest including the Griffith Foundation for Insurance Education, the Insurance Education Institute, and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, among others. The Big "I" has been running the InVEST program for more than 35 years, bringing risk management and insurance education to high school classrooms.
Again, the institutes and I encourage a dialogue on this issue.
PETER L. MILLER
American Institute for CPCU and Insurance Institute Of America
February 1, 2007
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