The first cohort of the Louisiana Insurance Academy at Delgado Community College is set to graduate in early December, and they will be ready for employment or internships at agencies across the state. Each graduate comes complete with a full education in commercial and personal lines via seasoned instructors currently working in the local industry; plus successful graduates will have earned their Accredited Customer Service Representative certifications (ACSR-P and ACSR-C).
Louisiana Insurance Academy is the brainchild of Parke Ellis, Chairman of Gillis, Ellis & Baker Inc. in New Orleans, and immediate past President of the IIABL. “The idea has been in my head for about five years,” Ellis said. “Fifty percent of people in our business are within ten years of retirement, that’s a national statistic. So we’ve got to recruit young, qualified talent for our industry.” Ellis also envisions major benefits for the students, who might otherwise never become exposed to the insurance industry. “I knew if we could teach people about the competitive salaries and the demand in the field that it would work.”
Ellis worked with the Big I to create awareness for the upcoming inaugural class and will work to help students with placement in local independent agencies after they complete their training. Additionally, Ellis’ fundraising efforts soliciting support and donations from insurance companies and brokers resulted in a tuition decrease from $1,500 to $350 per student.
Regarding the fruitful partnership with Delgado, Ellis explained, “Delgado has the structure and class space to do it and they were receptive from the very beginning. All fifteen of these students came into the program knowing nothing about insurance but searching for a great opportunity, and they’ll come out of this program prepared to benefit the local industry.”
The ten week accelerated program has a strict application process, and the connections that the students make throughout, as well as the established expertise of their instructors, is designed to give them all the tools they need to succeed in this dynamic, yet generally under-recognized professional path. In addition to Parke Ellis, instructors for the ACSR coursework include: Richard Hauser, Hauser Insurance Agency; Barry Blumberg, Blumberg and Associates; Joey O’Connor, O’Connor Insurance Group; Joe O’Connor, Eustis Insurance; John Beckmann, J. Everett Eaves; Randy Maddox, Morrison Insurance Agency; Jeff Albright, Chief Executive Officer of IIABL and Doug Mills of Gillis, Ellis & Baker.
In addition to their instructors’ and the Big I’s efforts, Ellis hopes that companies across the state will be on the look out for Louisiana Insurance Academy graduates. “We’re going to produce fifteen qualified accredited professionals,” Ellis said. “These students are entirely from Louisiana with the intent of staying and working in Louisiana.”