Past experience or learning is coming to be recognised as a valuable 'hidden' employee asset. Kate Foreman explains how to classify it

The accredited prior learning proposal we put forward last week certainly created something of a stir; albeit a stir of relief that all that has gone before is not lost in the modern trend towards up to date measurement of competence!The first issue that faces us now is how to identify prior learning and experience that is valid? We need to classify prior learning and experience and relate it to what we do now and what is expected of us, both from a business and regulatory perspective.Life might be a lot easier if we were to just ignore everything that has gone before. But if we do so we will have wasted the opportunity to identify where internal knowledge exists in a firm. This knowledge is frequently useful and certainly under-used. We will also have wasted the opportunity to give credit where it's due, the power of which should not be under estimated. Building on existing experience and knowledge is a positive and cost-effective route and can be amalgamated into the implementation of a training and competence scheme quite successfully.Let's deal first with classification of past experiences. Some of these will logical proceed from GISC guidance but, in reality, the art of classifying past experience for you and your firm lies in how you interpret the information and what you look for.The first step is to break down the expereinces into easy groupings that reflect education, work experience by sector and activities outside of the office, but with professional relevance.

  • Insurance exams. It is up to you to put a value on passes in formal insurance examinations. I meet many brokers who are actively encouraging staff to complete a qualification.
  • This is a welcome and positive attitude. But, are a handful of ACII subjects taken a decade ago of any value? Indeed, is an associateship gained in 1976 worth anything today? Is the Chartered Loss Adjuster qualification worth anything in the provincial broking market? These are issues that you must resolve within your own firm. My own view is a very positive 'Yes'. Make a note of every subject passed and the date. As with all formal qualifications, copies of any certificates or records of part-achievement should be placed in the individual training file.
  • Other exams and qualifications. Modern regulation demands all sorts of skills and knowledge. You may be surprised at the content of degrees and qualifications that staff have already achieved.
  • Modern qualifications (and some less recent) often encompass elements of coaching, accountancy, company secretarial, business analysis, computer studies, psychology, legal and marketing. The list is not exhaustive, so look carefully at what has already been achieved.
  • Training programmes. These can vary, but a good example is Norwich Union Fire 1 and 2. These were always regarded as second to none during the 1970s and 1980s as have been many other company training programmes. Make sure you ask staff about the contents and detail of such programmes. Some are much better than others.
  • Claims. Experience of claims generally can be invaluable in an environment led by risk assessment and management. After all, claims occur when things go wrong and the customer is let down. The ability to identify possible errors in the future is what sets the expert apart from the amateur.
  • Claims departments. Time spent in a claims department can be invaluable in understanding how and why a customer's claim is not met, either in part or not at all. This is the knowledge that can have a profound influence on preventing future similar occurrences.
  • Loss adjuster. My personal view is that practically any broker would benefit from having someone with loss adjusting experience on the staff. An experienced loss adjuster sees so much that goes wrong. Knowing how, why and when something can go wrong is the basis of risk management, both for the firm and for the customer.
  • Professional teaching. I have been quite surprised over the past few years at the number of staff in the insurance world who have some sort of teaching qualification and experience. Within a good compliance assessment scheme this could be invaluable.
  • If a member of staff needs to update their previous teaching experience, you will already have identified a valuable skill that may save you wasting resources and re-inventing the wheel. Remember that on-the-job competence is about finding the gaps in knowledge and skill and bridging them.
  • Ad hoc lecturing and teaching. It is always wise to obtain some sort of reference about the standard of the documented training or teaching skills, including copies of certificates. But I have come across many staff of broking firms who have, at some time in their lives, run very successful training sessions either of a technical or personal skills nature.
  • Someone with good teaching skills could save you a fortune in external training fees, particularly if they have the skills to facilitate learning, analyse the outcomes and record the results. As before, staff should be encouraged to formalise this experience (with Train the Trainer or adult education courses). This can be considerably more cost-effective for you than buying-in external training.
  • Management. The subject of management is so wide and the term so often misused that past evidence of 'management skills' (mis-management?) can often be of little value without detailed analysis and references. However, if you research the type of management training that has real value, you will find a database of valid courses and qualifications. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development can help you to do this and you can contact it on-line at .
  • Regulation. You will often find that employees who have worked in other roles will already have experience of regulation. This is particularly true of employees who have spent any time within a financial services firm, or a Lloyd's regulated firm.
  • Streetwise. There is often no substitute for a degree from the University of Life and those employees who can boast a few grey hairs (sadly I count myself within this group) will inevitably have a wealth of experience to bring to the party.
  • It is often forgotten that staff may have worked on specific projects, either within your own firm or as part of a previous job role. Even if this proves to be of a somewhat esoteric nature, it is nonetheless valuable.Don't forget too, that experience comes in many forms, not just full-time paid employment. Work within the voluntary sector, or managing sports teams or social events can often reveal hitherto hidden experience that holds value.Your task for this week is to ask staff to note down any previous experience or skills they have had. At this stage, include everything, because the paring down process can only happen when you have a full picture. Get them to include:
  • All past employment
  • Past education and training achievements
  • Key events (insurance related) in which they have been involved
  • Voluntary work
  • Social management (sports clubs etc., whether for adults or children).
  • You may be surprised at what you learn. As always, I am keen to know what your findings are. You have the opportunity of shaping the future in deciding what is and is not acceptable in identifying relevant accredited prior learning. I would welcome your emails with news of what you have found and any queries about the relevance of types of experience. This is an issue that we will return to in the future and hopefully your input will enable us to define what is 'in' and what is 'out'.
  • Kate Foreman is a compliance and training specialist with RW Associates
  • This page is edited by RW Associates, specialists in training, compliance and competence. Email,
  • Using this CPD pageFor the vast majority of practitioners and indeed support and supervisory staff in our industry, CPD is about regular learning and study that is planned, recorded, timed and evaluated. If you are a member of a professional body with a CPD requirement then there will be certain rules regarding the quality and nature of study material, and the way in which it is recorded.For staff of GISC members this means recording on your individual training file what the learning was, who provided it and when.It might be structured, such as a course, a learning programme or exam study. But it can be unstructured. This form of study encompasses reading the trade press, technical material or taking part in activities to support your professional body. Some CPD requirements are points related (a little antiquated) and others require a time value to be allocated. For example, it might take one hour to read Insurance Times each week. Most of that could be put as a time value but, in reality, perhaps only an half hour was devoted to learning something. The rule is to be honest with yourself and record the time that is relevant. Always take time to make a note of what you felt you gained from the activity. This is useful information for anyone else considering the same activity.In response to the popularity of our CPD programme each week's CPD page can now be downloaded from our website. We will be preparing a binder for you to keep these in alongside the results of the exercises.To download a PDF of this article as it appears in the magazine click here .