OIA participated in a gathering with the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) and the Insurance Industry Resource Council (IIRC) this week to get an update on the COVID-19 impacts to the RMI programs in our state.
As you know, Ohio has made significant progress in the past 9 years going from zero to 12 higher education RMI programs. These programs are now graduating tens of new RMI degrees and certifications replenishing a workforce that is projected to need 24,000 new jobs by 2024.
As universities, colleges, community colleges and technical schools brace for significant budgetary cuts, the question has been raised whether any of these programs will be cut or reduced. The state budgetary impact of COVID-19 will take at least $300 Million in state funding from universities and colleges.
In addition, they are anticipating significantly reduced incoming freshman classes with many high school graduates opting for a gap year instead of entering the traditional higher education setting due to the many uncertainties. Based on reports, private colleges are experiencing greater reductions than public universities and community colleges. However, not all higher education schools are having the same experience, the institutions that are based primarily online are seeing double digit increases in enrollment.
Transition to online learning
Because many of the insurance programs are relatively new, the transition into the online environment has been much more smooth than traditional higher education programs. Many of the RMI programs already offered online learning opportunities and their instructors are more familiar with this experience. In addition, many of the students had taken some of their classes through the online format so the impact does not appear to be significant.
Recruitment and Internships
According to RMI program administrators, they anticipate program recruitment to be among the biggest challenge to the success of the RMI programs. To date most of the recruitment efforts have been traditional in person meetings, events and counseling sessions. That now moves to virtual discussions and social media campaigns. Attracting new students into RMI programs with this manner of recruitment could prove to be a challenge and will be tested for the incoming fall sessions.
In regard to summer internships, several were cancelled do to the short notice and logistical challenges. However, several of the schools and companies moved forward with summer internships in a virtual environment.
At this point, none of the 12 RMI programs are anticipating elimination or a reduction in their programs. This is good news for the Ohio insurance industry and independent agency system as we need more people to be educated and trained in insurance prior to entering the field. OIA will keep you posted as things progress in this area. For more information on this topic, please reach out to Jeff Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.