Conn. Plan for University for Insurance Skills Training Wins $2.7M Grant

July 19, 2006

Connecticut’s efforts to boost the state’s insurance and financial sector has received some help from $2.7 million federal training grant.

The President’s High-Growth Job Training Initiative awarded $2.748 million to a Connecticut partnership that will create “IFS University” that is charged with developing a curriculum and training model for the insurance and financial services industry over the next three years.

The IFS University will be created through a statewide partnership that includes Capital Community College, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Insurance and Financial Services Cluster, an industry-led forum for sharing ideas and addressing the state’s business climate. The WorkPlace, Inc., a regional workforce development board, will serve as administrator and fiduciary for the project.

The insurance and financial services industry is a primary economic driver throughout the state, with over 140,000 jobs representing 8 percent of Connecticut’s labor market. The industry has identified four critical occupations – financial managers and analysts, accountants and auditors, financial sales agents and brokers, and actuaries – which are projected to grow and also to require ongoing skill enhancement.

“This exciting initiative will not only go a long way in expanding jobs in the insurance and financial services industries, it will be a model of innovation,” Governor M. Jodi Rell said. “Because our state has the highest concentration of financial analysts, actuaries and underwriters in the nation, we must consistently maintain and develop those skills with a knowledge-intensive workforce.”

Brian MacLean, chief operating officer of St. Paul Travelers and chairman of the Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services Cluster, said, “The primary competitive advantage that Connecticut’s insurance and financial services companies have is our talent. This ‘IFS University’ initiative will ensure that we nurture that talent for the future, enhance our delivery of creative products and services, and expand our ability to compete in global markets.”

The grant provides funding (through the U.S. Department of Labor) to develop a curriculum with the skills training required to enter into and advance in the four occupational areas.

The project will develop the first Associate in Science Degree in Insurance and Financial Services to be offered at the community college level in Connecticut. After the new curriculum is completed, 400 people are expected to be trained within the initial grant period.

“This initiative will enable us to build on our partnership with the insurance and financial services industry that is so integral to the region’s economy,” said Dr. Calvin E. Woodland, president of Capital Community College. “Capital’s existing training and professional development programs will serve as a good base for this initiative, and we look forward to doing more to prepare the workforce for occupations that will help the industry thrive and remain competitive.”

The Insurance and Financial Services Cluster is one of the state’s nine industry clusters. It seeks to help Connecticut compete as a primary location for insurance, asset management, banks and other financial services companies.

Source: Conn. DECD

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