Focused opportunity programs
exist for insurance and risk management education in high schools and post-secondary education
[W]hen students begin to learn how insurance …
impacts their life and their families’ lives and the good
jobs and compensation available, their interest awakens.
By Dr. William T. Hold, CIC, CPCU, CLU
You don’t need to be an industry expert to understand that the risk management and insurance (RMI) community is losing talented and experienced individuals and that this trend will continue for several years. We also know that this problem did not appear just yesterday and will not be solved tomorrow.
The solution requires long-term and sustainable multifaceted efforts.
Two important and successful opportunity programs that are part of these efforts are the CISR High School (CISRHS) and CIC or CRM University Associate (UACIC/UACRM) programs—developed by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research in conjunction with major universities and state education agencies.
The impetus for these programs was essentially twofold. First, the RMI community recognized the need for a continuing flow of talented and trained people. Second, there was a growing national awareness that universities and colleges and even high schools were not effective enough in preparing students for real world jobs and careers.
In short, students and parents on a national level were saying, “we have spent a lot of time and money for education and training, but where are the employment opportunities, i.e., the good jobs and careers.” And collectively, “we are not satisfied with the return on our investment.”
While the above factors were, in many respects, negative over the past decade, they did lead to young people and students taking a closer look at the wide array of good opportunities and careers available within risk management and insurance. In addition, insurance companies, agencies, and related businesses were very interested in hiring these individuals.
Paralleling this greater interest, universities and colleges have added and expanded their RMI offerings because of greater student participation and the financial and employment support from the RMI community.
In essence they began to “go where the new talent grows.”
The following discussion explores the whys, wherefores, and benefits of the CISRHS, UACIC and UACRM programs.
For high school students
The CISR High School program is a three-semester course of study that provides high school students with the opportunity to earn the internationally accredited Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation in high school while earning their high school diploma.
This very unique opportunity is available only in the CISRHS program for essentially two reasons. First, the program content is the mirror image of the content of the CISR program that has been conducted in the non-high school environment for over three decades. In addition, the student must pass the five CISR national certification examinations.
Second, and perhaps the most unique element of the program, is that CISRHS courses are “accredited” high school courses. They are part of a high school’s curriculum just as algebra, English, and geography. As such, they are approved by a specific state department of education or individual school district.
The benefits of the unique aspects of the CISRHS program accrue to the high schools, the risk management and insurance community (insurance agencies, companies, and other RMI-related businesses), and most important the student.
In terms of high schools, the program is composed of a complete package of instructional materials, all digitally based with no additional equipment required outside of a computer for the student.
The faculty responsible for the courses require no special training or knowledge of insurance or risk management. The conduct of the program is based on a learning management system with an “IT” support system of technical and instructional professionals.
From the RMI community’s point of view, where can an agency or company find a young individual—one with a demonstrated interest and level of knowledge in the areas necessary to begin a career as a CSR or related job? It is important to note that the cost of this prior training and achievement of the CISR designation has already been paid.
To a significant extent, many individuals, young and old, have a somewhat dim view of insurance as a product, service, or much less a career. However, when students begin to learn how insurance and risk management impacts their life and their families’ lives and the good jobs and compensation available, their interest awakens.
Furthermore, when that student has sound training available and a recognized credential, this awakening could grow to seismic proportions.
We should not ignore the fact that high schools exist in areas where employment opportunities and earnings are limited. However, there are few communities large or small where some element of insurance or a related business is not present. The CISRHS program can be an important element in making “a dreamed journey a reality.”
Compared to the history of the CISR program and its 30,000 or so designees internationally, the CISRHS program is very young. It currently is conducted in eight states (Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas) in conjunction with 33 different high schools. More than 2,750 students are participating in the program.
The program costs can be funded in several ways. The primary funding avenue is the high school or education authority. However, in many instances, funding is provided by the RMI community. Prime examples are insurance companies, insurance agencies, education foundations, and individuals in the community.
The annual fee for the largest high schools is $4,000. It is important to note this is an all-inclusive fee for unlimited enrollment.
In recent years, high school career training has been transformed in name, sophistication, and image. Gone are the days of “trade school,” “tech school,” or “distributive education.” Today there are truly “career and technical training programs” such as CISRHS that emphasize practical real-world skills and knowledge and have a selected career focus.
At the college level
The UACIC and UACRM offerings were created in conjunction with Florida State University in 2010. The purpose was to encourage college students interested in risk management and insurance to combine their collegiate studies with the attainment of a professional designation(s), i.e., CIC and/or CRM.
To attain the UA status, a student must complete the required course work and pass two CIC and/or CRM examinations. These are the same examinations taken by all individuals seeking the CIC and/or CRM designations. Thus, when students graduate, they have an impressive combination of a college degree and a highly respected RMI credential.
To prospective employers this demonstrates the student’s interest in an RMI career and a mastery of important RMI information. The student gains a career head start and can complete the remaining three parts of either the CIC and/or CRM programs at a later time. In the same fashion as the CISRHS program, the UA program produces a greater “return on investment” for both student and employer.
The participation of other universities and colleges has demonstrated the value and acceptance of the program with currently 33 schools actively participating. These are the universities and colleges with the leading RMI programs. Examples include Florida State, Georgia, Wisconsin, Temple, North Carolina-Charlotte, Butler, and Mississippi. While there are other excellent participating universities, the limited nature of this discussion does not allow a complete listing.
A significant number of students have been attracted to the program as some 3,300 have entered the program and more than 800 have achieved the UACIC and/or UACRM designation(s).
A bright future
Education, learning, and understanding—whether at the high school or collegiate level—are the engines of social mobility, individual success, and financial growth. Of necessity, these are continuing efforts that an individual can control—their investment and the effort they are willing to make.
The CISRHS, UACIC and UACRM programs always include a “next step,” because no one should be left an educational orphan.
Today, students at all levels face different challenges than older generations. As they complete an educational program, they should walk away with an opportunity. The CISRHS, UACIC and UACRM programs are, in essence, opportunity programs for students, employers, and the community.
Individually and collectively, they empower us with the “opportunity to own our potential.”
For more information on the CISR-HS, UACIC and UACRM programs, please contact Noelle Codispoti, director-emerging talent programs, The National Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the UA programs, contact Professor Charles Nyce, chairman of the Risk Management and Insurance Department at the Florida State University College of Business, at email@example.com.
For additional information about other universities and how to effectively communicate with and recruit students in risk management and insurance, please contact Professor Kathleen McCullough, senior associate dean for academic affairs, Florida State University College of Business, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
William T. “Doc” Hold, Ph.D., CIC, CPCU, CLU, is executive chairman of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, which he co-founded in 1969 as The Society of CIC. Under his leadership, The National Alliance has grown to become one of the most prestigious insurance education organizations in the world. In this column Doc shares his personal insights and opinions, which are not necessarily those of The National Alliance or its board members.