Hundreds Possible At Travelers; 100 In IT Being Cut
January 27, 2006
By DIANE LEVICK, Courant Staff Writer
The St. Paul Travelers Cos., whose
merger two years ago raised uncertainty about jobs in the long term,
said Thursday it plans to add 1,000 positions nationwide this year
and signaled that hundreds of them could be in Hartford.
The company would not be specific,
but said a "substantial" number of the 1,000 jobs will be in the
The hiring news, though, came as Travelers
told nearly 100 information technology employees in Hartford, as
expected, that they will lose their jobs soon because of outsourcing.
A few dozen IT employees in St. Paul, Minn., will also be cut.
In addition, the company said Thursday
it will add another 500 IT workers through outsourcing contracts
during the next 12 to 24 months, but said they won't replace existing
Travelers employees. The foreign workers will be needed to serve
the company's growing business needs, Travelers spokeswoman Marlene
Travelers currently has 500 IT workers
through outsourcing agreements, many of them working in India. The
company deals with three vendors - two U.S. firms that use foreign
labor, and one Indian firm.
The outsourcing "is not primarily
a cost-cutting measure," Ibsen said. However, the expanded
outsourcing will make the company more "flexible" and
"nimble" so it can "gear up quickly for major projects
and we can dial down resources if our needs lessen," she said.
Travelers does not have the time or
resources to hire and train the number of people it forecasts it
will need, Ibsen said.
Travelers' IT budgets are actually
expected to increase to meet "pent-up demand in business lines"
and new technology initiatives in the personal insurance and small-commercial
business, she said.
Meanwhile, Travelers' creation of new
jobs will come as good news to the Hartford area, where other insurers
have been laying off workers, too - even while some are adding different
kinds of jobs.
Ibsen would not estimate how many of
the 1,000 new positions will be in Hartford. But "since Hartford
is our largest base of operations, we expect a substantial number
of those to be here," she said.
Hartford is the home of the company's
personal auto and homeowner's insurance, and the general commercial
property-casualty lines. Travelers has roughly 5,900 employees in
Connecticut, and more than 30,000 nationwide.
St. Paul, Minn., however, became the
corporate headquarters when Travelers Property Casualty Corp. and
The St. Paul Cos. merged in 2004.
The 1,000 jobs to be added nationwide
will span a variety of functions, including claims adjusters, nurses,
and IT professionals. The IT positions are expected to include business
analysts and project leaders - different jobs from the ones being
outsourced, which are largely programming and testing positions,
In Hartford specifically, Travelers
expects to hire product and pricing professionals who have strong
math backgrounds and are good in predictive modeling and statistics,
Ibsen said. The company will also be adding underwriting account
Despite the new hiring, Travelers is
not promising no more layoffs. Like most companies, it's leaving
the door open for possible cuts if business plans change.
"We don't have further announcements
at this time," Ibsen said. "We're continually evaluating
our business needs."
Some employees believe there will be
more IT layoffs in Hartford.
Thursday's toll of nearly 100 in Hartford
would have been larger, but Travelers says it was able to place
some IT employees in different jobs within the company.
About 30 percent of the workers provided
by vendors to Travelers work in its U.S. offices - mainly Hartford
- and the rest are in India.
Sending jobs offshore has irked many
U.S. workers. Ibsen said the outsourcing is a "painful step"
that will keep the company competitive. "We believe this is
the right thing for us to do for our company, our investors ...
and long-term presence in our communities," she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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