Whether you call this period for the nation’s economy a slow recovery, a stagnant era or a continuing recession, one thing is clear: Jobs are not easy to find. IT jobs are no exception, and employment seekers are saddled with the additional challenge of seeing U.S. positions lost to offshore outsourcing.
With this backdrop in mind, I was somewhat amazed at comments I heard recently from a friend’s son who just graduated from college. He had a degree in an IT-related discipline but was having very little luck getting any interest from prospective employers. Thinking I might hook him up with some of the great people I know in the insurance IT space, I asked him if he had considered working in this industry.
You might, by the expression on his face, think that I had suggested joining a satanic cult. It became obvious as we talked on that he viewed our industry as unscrupulous, if not altogether evil. He might be desperate for a job, but apparently he wasn’t that desperate yet. I really shouldn’t have been surprised by this reaction, however, because the insurance industry has been systematically demonized (unfairly in my view) by media and others who are pushing health care reform. The natural result, of course, is that job seekers are less than enthusiastic about joining our ranks.
This hatchet job on our industry has been going on for years in political circles, and is a logical extension of the idea that it is those greedy capitalist pigs (i.e. insurers, banks, large corporations) who have brought our economy down. Insurance in particular is blamed for the fact that some in our country don’t have proper health care—because we in this industry are so greedy and heartless, you see.
Let’s be clear. Some changes to health care insurance provision are needed, even if they don’t include forcing individuals to buy coverage, which has been found by the courts to be unconstitutional. Further, it is fair to say that the insurance industry has its fair share of bad apples—and what industry doesn’t?
Yet I have also found this industry chock full of bright, articulate, warm and caring individuals who want very much to make a positive contribution to the world. In fact, one of the reasons I enjoy attending and being involved in industry conferences is that it gives me an opportunity to connect with such individuals. In my experience, these opportunities are rarely found in business settings.
I explained all this to the young job-seeker, but my endorsement seemed to have little effect. Unfortunately, it seems insurance has been thrown under the bus so often that our industry may never lose the tire tracks of disgrace. And that, in itself, is a disgrace.
Before we start hurling slings and arrows at any industry, we would do well to remember that there are living, breathing human beings in that industry who do not deserve to be attacked thus.
Meanwhile, insurers need to renew efforts to train and hire our own IT personnel—we have done it in the past. I am still confident that those who spend any time in this industry will see it as a positive and promising place to work, and will be glad to be part of our community.
Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.
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