Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce addresses a “desperate need” for new insurance employees

Chamber of Commerce Addresses Insurance Employee Shortage

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - There’s a desperate need for new insurance employees in the Sarasota area, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Longtime insurance workers say their workforce is aging and it’s hard to fight a misconception that insurance is all about sales.

CareerEdge, the workforce development initiative of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, uses donations to provide training to employees in certain fields. Their mission is to give those employees the skills they need to be promoted.

Staff said this training encourages upward mobility within companies and their new goal is to help with a dire need in Sarasota - finding new people who want to work in insurance.

“Good afternoon, Dakkak Insurance, how may I help you?” answered George Dakkak, who said this is the same type of phone call he’s been answering as an Allstate agent for 31 years.

“I love it because you’re helping people every day and you sleep well at night knowing that you did the right thing," Dakkak explained.

But it’s convincing other people this career path is one worth choosing that’s been his greatest challenge.

“I think it’s a misconception that insurance is complicated or complex or [just] sales," Dakkak said. "If you like dealing with people, you’ll do very well in insurance, because you’re helping people all day long.”

CareerEdge saw the need for new interest in this industry and stepped in to help.

“We either have labor market that shows us what industry is growing or we commission a skill gap study to really understand the industry," said Mireya Eavey, Executive Vice President of CareerEdge. "Because a lot of time, an employer can say, ‘We need people.’ Well we need to understand, what kind of people? What are the jobs? What are their skill sets? Before we can make the decision that we want to invest and we want to work in an industry.”

CareerEdge commissioned a study to determine exactly what the insurance field needs to attract more employees and found a significant lack in branding.

“There were a lot of needs, but there was the lack of awareness of a career in insurance and it can be exciting, you know, they’re calling it now a career with a purpose," Eavey explained.

Staff are now spreading that message with recruiting videos and new internship grants to help employers attract students.

“They’re cool jobs," she added. "Now they work with drones. It’s technology. A lot of what’s exciting is you can work from home, you can travel. It’s an exciting job. You don’t have to sit at a desk.”

CareerEdge first focused its efforts on growing the healthcare industry, then manufacturing and trade and now insurance in Sarasota and Bradenton. Staff said a customer service representative with the training they’re offering can make $38,000 per year for an entry level position.

For more information about CareerEdge, click here.

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