IIAT and Other Industry Groups Establish Internship, Scholarship Programs for Minority Students

June 28, 2004

The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas reported that it is building an IIAT internship program to encourage minority college students in Texas to learn about careers in the insurance industry. The program will be part of a joint effort with Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, and other insurance organizations, including American Institute for CPCU, the Insurance Institute of America, and the Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association, and others.

Minorities are reportedly the fastest growing segment of the population, but they often overlook well-paying insurance jobs including careers in the independent agency system, according to the IIAT.

The Austin American Statesman reported that a demographic study of the members of the Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association indicated that minorities are under-represented in the industry. According to Marvin Kelly, the Guaranty Association’s executive director, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that African Americans comprise 11 percent of the U.S. population and 11.3 percent of the Texas population. Only 1.9 percent of Kelly’s association’s members are African American. Only 1.4 percent of the members are Hispanic, compared with 34 percent of the Texas population and 12.5 percent nationwide.

Bill Harrison, Jr., IIAT president-elect, announced the IIAT’s participation in the internship program at a press conference June 22 at Huston-Tillotson College.

“To facilitate the entry of students into our industry, our state association announces a career internship initiative to develop a model internship program,” Harrison said. “This program includes planned activities and learning opportunities benefiting both student and business.”

Harrison said IIAT believes it is important for the business community and for the insurance industry specifically to develop intelligent approaches to meet the needs of the state’s rapidly diversifying population. “The Texas economy and its neighborhoods are evolving in ways that require us to redefine not only existing products and services, but also our employment practices,” he said.

Through a combination of internships, scholarships and associated college courses, the program hopes to help minority students understand the benefits of an insurance career. The partners have been working on the creating the program for the past year and a half.

The Statesman reported that Huston-Tillotson plans to offer a risk management course this fall, although the school is searching for a professor to teach the class. The partners are also working to find people within the industry to teach insurance courses.

Through the internship program students will get a look at the industry and earn course credit. Scholarships also will be made available for Huston-Tillotson and the campus will be a site for the Charter Property and Casualty Underwriters examination.

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