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State of Connecticut Prepares Next Generation for High Growth Occupations in the Financial Services and Insurance Industries


State First to Use IBM Research Technology; Work With SkillPROOF, Pace University, Norwalk Community College and Capital Community College Hartford to Train Students for Growing Careers

ARMONK, NY .-IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Connecticut is the first U.S. state to use data analytics software jointly developed by IBM, Pace University of New York, and the Connecticut-based labor research firm SkillPROOF, Inc., to identify and train students for lucrative job opportunities with the state’s biggest insurance and financial services employers.

“IBM’s partnership with Pace University has made it possible for SkillPROOF to help Connecticut and its colleges and universities to better identify and address specific employment needs across the state,” said Mark Hanny, IBM Vice President of IBM’s Global Alliances and Academic Initiative. “Connecticut exemplifies how local governments, collaborating with industries and government, can lead the way in adopting new technology to better pinpoint job opportunities -- and prepare students for valuable careers.”

The first round of analysis has revealed a strong demand for actuaries, and is already influencing the planning of college courses.

In 2006, the State of Connecticut was awarded a $2.7 million Department of Labor training grant to create the Insurance and Financial Services Center for Educational Excellence (IFS Center) to provide the skills-training required for the insurance, financial services and banking sectors and to serve as a national model for workforce development training programs. The IFS Center was created through a statewide partnership that includes Capital and Norwalk Community Colleges, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and the Insurance and Financial Services Cluster, The Business Council of Fairfield County, and Capital Workforce Partners. The Workplace, Inc., a regional workforce investment board, serves as administrator and fiduciary for the project.

Faced with the need to identify current and future employment trends for the State of Connecticut, the IFS Center tapped SkillPROOF to develop Web-crawler software that collects job postings from the “careers” section of large employers’ corporate websites and places them into a database.

SkillPROOF founder Henning Seip was familiar with IBM’s open source research project UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture), an open standards-based technology that combines intelligent search, taxonomy generation and classification for more accurate text search based on natural language. He turned to IBM for help in developing the data analytics technology and tapped Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems in New York to help create the application.

“This is the next generation of searching,” said Constance Knapp, PhD, Interim Dean of the Seidenberg school.

As a result of the joint development, SkillPROOF has been producing monthly reports for the IFS Center that more accurately analyze current job opportunities in financial services and insurance than the state’s previous method of scanning job boards manually. This in turn is helping the IFS Center work with local colleges to deliver more targeted job training.

The report indicates that in Connecticut, the demand for actuaries is about four times higher than occupations with average demand. According to findings in the June 2008 issue of the IFS Center job report, employers require actuaries to have primarily analytic (85% of postings) and communication skills (verbal and written, 80% of postings).

An actuary is an insurance company’s mathematician who calculates premiums, dividends, and annuity rates as well as evaluates the potential for future claims costs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean income for actuaries in Connecticut in 2007 was $98,550.

“The IFS job reports have provided DECD and the IFS industry with real time information which allows the IFS Center to develop curriculum and offer programs targeted to the high growth jobs that are identified,” said Patricia Downs, Executive Director, Strategy and Policy at DECD.

“When you use hard data, decisions get sharper,” Seip says. “Locally and nationwide, we need to find and research the job requirement trends of employers to offer a better understanding of their needs, and to help support career planning and decision making by students, professionals, and the education institutions that serve them.”


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