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05.08.2021

The importance of training and development

Learning and development are a vital part of our culture at APR, and we are proud to have a reputation for the high-quality of training we provide. We believe that our approach to training, with an intensive induction programme for new starters, backed up by ongoing training and development plans that help guide staff through their careers, offers some major perks. Below we discuss some of the main benefits, which provide compelling reasons for companies to invest in training and development.

Improve the skills and knowledge of your team

Perhaps the most obvious benefit, but one not to be overlooked, is that training can help to better equip staff with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive. As well as the clear advantages from having a more capable and confident team, a focus on learning and development enables companies to get new staff quickly up to speed.

At APR we believe that, as well as learning how you might perform certain tasks or calculations, it is important to understand the wider context – e.g. why it is needed, or why a certain method might be used. We aim to give our staff the breadth of knowledge and skills required to fully understand a problem, consider the best solution, and then implement it. See our recent article for more on the key traits that we aim to instil in our staff from their first day with APR.

Improve staff engagement/motivation and retention

Staff that are engaged and motivated not only perform at higher levels and tend to stay longer, but also help spread the word about how great the company they work for is. Providing opportunities to expand skills and knowledge helps to show employees that they are valued, with a personal development journey to enable them to achieve their goals. It makes sense that people who feel supported in this way should be more likely to hang around, and we believe that ongoing development of skills has been a key element of our high staff retention rate at APR.

Attract the top talent

As well as benefitting your existing team, a focus on training and development is helpful for recruitment. There is significant evidence to suggest that access to training and development opportunities is a key factor when choosing an employer, particularly among the younger generations. For example, research from LinkedIn (2021 Workplace Learning Report) suggests that a focus on learning and career growth is essential for motivating younger employees, with more than 75% of those under 24 years old, and more than 60% of millennials (aged 25 to 40), agreeing that learning is the key to a successful career.

Build relationships

Training presents an excellent opportunity for staff to build relationships and expand their network. As well as the chance to work with new people and tackle new challenges together, staff can lean on one another by collaborating with colleagues who have specific areas of expertise. Working with and learning from others naturally builds team morale, while helping everyone to move closer together – particularly important in recent times (more on this below) – and these bonds can help to further improve staff retention and engagement.

Consistency

Ongoing training and development plans allow you to bring all team members to a higher level, with a similar skills and knowledge base, leading to a more well-rounded workforce. This creates an overall knowledgeable staff with employees who can take over for one another as needed, a trait that has particular importance for a company such as ours.

Encourage creativity

Finally, the chance to explore new topics and methods, refine new skills, and expand knowledge can also foster creativity. Learning new skills, and the confidence that comes with this, can encourage staff to think outside the box and come up with new ideas for how things could be done differently in their own work.

In short, we believe that prioritising training and development provides both the individual and the company as a whole with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.

APR’s training offering and the impact of Covid

It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic brought with it many changes and challenges, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing excellent training to both our staff and clients.

Remote working brought an end to face-to-face interaction and with it the risk that some softer skills might not develop as naturally as in the past, such as through observing colleagues at work and learning from their interactions. As touched on above, and while not a replacement for social interaction, getting staff together regularly through ongoing training and development opportunities can be a great way to build relationships, offer staff a bit of a change of pace, and attempt to counter some of the negative aspects of remote working.

Of course, we needed to learn new ways of working in a virtual world, including adapting how material is delivered, moving from our traditional face-to-face format to being delivered entirely remotely. So far this has worked well, and in the past year we have successfully delivered our induction training programme to two new intakes of actuarial students. We’ve continued to offer training in the key software and coding languages used in the industry, such as VBA and SQL, and also made updates to our material in other areas that are becoming increasingly important, such as R and Python.

We’ve also expanded our offering in 2021 with the introduction of regular lunch and learn sessions, covering a variety of topics from the Solvency II matching adjustment to capital modelling and topics in GI reserving. These sessions have proved to be a popular way of getting staff together to learn from each other’s strengths, helping to create a well-rounded workforce and foster a collaborative and supportive environment.

Looking forward, we are excited to be welcoming our largest intake of new actuarial staff in September who will be put through their paces via our now well-established induction training programme.

While we press on with our internal training and development plans, we’re also keen to continue our work with external partners, which has seen us deliver training services to a number of our clients in the past. As well as offering more typical training courses in core competencies, we can also offer more regular training opportunities designed to provide ongoing skills development for more senior actuarial staff.

Further information on APR’s training services can be found on our webpage or, alternatively, please contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how we might be able to help with your training and development needs.

Richard Collins

August 2021