State’s Talent Shortage Front and Center at Fourth Annual Kansas Financial Services Summit

October 5, 2018

TOPEKA, Kan., Oct. 05, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Addressing talent recruitment and retention challenges for Kansas employers was the common theme at the fourth annual Kansas Financial Services Summit, held September 26 at the Security Benefit headquarters in Topeka. From recent graduates leaving Kansas for better employment opportunities to drawing those same professionals back to the state when they’re ready to settle down, the event discussion kept coming back to the state’s talent gap. The fourth annual event hosted a record 200 attendees, who heard an afternoon of panel discussions from Kansas leaders on a variety of subjects. Key takeaways from the event include:

-- Talent crisis: “The numbers are clear that there is a shortage of talent in Kansas and it’s been a bit of a slow bleed,” said Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, speaking on a panel about workforce development and retention. More than 50,000 jobs are advertised in Kansas, according to Flanders, but there is a disconnect between Kansas college graduates and employers: most big-name brands don’t reside in Kansas, and graduates tend to flee the state as a result. “Of the students we graduate, about half of them leave,” Flanders said. -- Boomerang talent.New graduates leaving Kansas to explore is inevitable, but drawing them back to their roots to settle down can help ease the talent shortage, according to Cody Foster, Founder, Advisors Excel, Chair, Greater Topeka Partnership. As a target market, Foster cited young professionals who grew up in Kansas or went to college in the state, whose priorities change after they’ve left the state for a few years and now have families. “I think we could do a better job of selling the things that are huge positives to those people,” he said. -- Innovation amid digital transformation.Today’s increasingly digital world has caught up with Kansas, and the state must innovate to keep up and stay competitive, according to John Tomblin, Vice-President for Office of Research, Wichita State University; Executive Director, National Institute for Aviation Research. Tomblin cited Wichita’s aviation industry as an example: the industry rested on its laurels for too long while the world advanced technologies in manufacturing. “We went to sleep for 30 years saying, ‘no one makes better aircraft than we do,’” Tomblin said. Now, the world is demanding innovation and a more sophisticated approach to businesses challenges. Tomblin cited the world’s largest 3D printer, which is located in Wichita, as a potential solution to these challenges plus the increasing demand for aircraft production. “It can make a part that’s 24 feet by 8 feet by 9 feet,” he said of the 3D printer. -- Bringing outside money into the region.The value of traded sectors can serve as an anchor of economic growth, said Marek Gootman, Fellow and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Global Initiatives, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution. “The Kansas state model is exactly right, because you have the multiplier effect for jobs or activities that sell outside the region,” he said. Des Moines, for example, has the highest concentration of insurance technology in the country, according to Gootman, and has established itself in a very deliberate way around its workforce, setting an example for Topeka to continue to grow its financial services presence in the U.S. and beyond.

“We are pleased to have hosted yet another successful Annual Kansas Financial Services Summit,” said Mike Kiley, CEO of Security Benefit Corporation. “It is clear that Kansas businesses are facing many important issues and that our state’s business leaders are taking steps to meet those challenges head on. We thank all of the participants in this year’s event and we look forward to growing the event even further in the years to come.”

The Kansas Financial Services Summit was organized in partnership with Security Benefit, the Kansas Insurance Department, GO Topeka and the Kansas Department of Commerce. For more information about this year’s event, visit http://www.gotopeka.com/FinancialSummit/. #KFSS18

About Security BenefitSecurity Benefit Life Insurance Company, a Kansas-based insurance company that has been in business for more than 126 years, is a leader in the U.S. retirement market. Security Benefit together with its affiliates offers products in a full range of retirement markets and wealth segments for employers and individuals and held $38 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2017. Security Benefit continues its mission of helping Americans To and Through Retirement®. www.securitybenefit.com.

Media Contacts:Michael Castino, Director of Public Relations, Security Benefit michael.castino@securitybenefit.com

Ryan Hoffman, Communications Strategy Group rhoffman@wearecsg.com

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