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Qualifications in unprecedented times
17 July 2020

Qualifications in unprecedented times

When we look at strategic investment in a pensions setting, then this will obviously guide us down the avenue of product rather than person. However, education is fundamental to development and growth. Education is also a strategic investment in its own right. Simply put, investments in quality education lead to more rapid and sustainable economic growth, and development for both the individual organisation and the economy as a whole. I make no apology for the insistence that education in this form is ‘strategic investment’ but without this as a holistic back note then none of the normal organisational processes would matter or run efficiently.

Strategic investment in education as a function therefore involves ensuring that an organisation has the right people who have the right skills at the right time.

This is exaggerated further as we find ourselves in the most operationally difficult situation we have been in as long as many current leaders, and some before that, can remember. COVID-19 uncertainties mean that organisations who entered the storm will not come out of it the same when it is over, and not all will see it through. Even if this were the only problem, then the ‘long forgotten’ issue of Brexit is still looming on the horizon.

This is exaggerated further as we find ourselves in the most operationally difficult situation we have been in as long as many current leaders, and some before that, can remember. COVID-19 uncertainties mean that organisations who entered the storm will not come out of it the same when it is over, and not all will see it through. Even if this were the only problem, then the ‘long forgotten’ issue of Brexit is still looming on the horizon.

Never before have we had to dramatically develop a systematic approach to a sustainable future, and we need to start looking more seriously at a strategic investment approach to learning and development, and as to what skills we will need and who we will need to manage in the ‘new normal’.

It’s no longer a case of weathering the storm, and more about learning how to dance in the rain. Strategic investment now will reap dividends for the future; it is a time to look inwardly and develop outwards.

It’s no longer a case of weathering the storm, and more about learning how to dance in the rain

COVID-19: what have we learned so far? Well we know that:

  • Social distancing is the new norm. If people come within the 1m, 2m (or however many metres this ends up as) ‘bubble’ then this is seen as offensive and dangerous.
  • International travel, even local travel, is falling apart at the seams as people turn to greener methods and online conferencing.
  • Buying online is the easiest way to shop. Demand for online services in every sector is exponentially increasing and a greater efficiency in the operating of these companies is required to meet the demand.
  • Data is the new oil. There is a rush towards 5G to facilitate home offices and enable and empower organisations to operate remotely. The rise in demand for new powerful PCs, servers and home connectivity devices like we have never seen before.
  • Employees worldwide are experiencing enormous change during this unprecedented time. Workdays have been restructured, offices have closed their doors, and colleagues

been made redundant. As a result of ‘shielding’ we don’t go to the office as much; working from home is quickly becoming, and being accepted as, a new way of working.

A Gartner Inc. survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders on March 30 2020 revealed that 74% of them will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID-191 .

Learning as a function of importance for companies’ success has increased exponentially due to the pandemic, primarily because of this working from home phenomena. Almost no area of business has been unaffected, and although the future of the world, both inside and outside of business, is uncertain, one thing has become clear: organisations must provide employees with the tools to help with managing this unprecedented level of change.

The ability to learn and develop skills at home, whilst working, adds a sense of normality, purpose and structure to the lives of our/your employees, who, like us all, feel as though their world has been turned upside down.

Organisations must provide employees with the tools to help with managing this unprecedented level of change.

This is where the PMI has stepped in and is able to prepare your organisation to have, and demonstrate, qualified staff at every level. Over the last 18 months we have developed a Competency Framework, along the lines of professional development within the sector, for use with its qualification offer. The PMI Competency Framework allows your teams to examine educational gaps, or in fact actual gaps, in your present personnel. It also helps to determine organisational needs in the future. It provides a pathway and a direction of travel.

This type of framework is not new in any sense: much like Henry Ford and the First Model T Car in 1908, the technology wasn’t new, but how he utilised it was groundbreaking. The PMI Competency Framework provides the route through our qualifications that has not been seen before in the context of qualification delivery for our sector.

We have also transformed our delivery approach to allow every learner to be able to sit any exam we offer in their own home by digitalising all of our examinations.

These changes have been necessary for some time and are now the reality of how we will approach learning and development. They will become our ‘new normal’.

This is the level of investment the PMI has put in to satisfy the future needs of organisations working in the pensions sector. It is now up to those organisations to invest in the development of their workforce, work better and smarter, and make the most of the challenges moving forward by becoming more responsive.

The fee for each online revision course is £55 per person. To find out more and to register, click here.

Notes/Sources

1 https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfosurey-
reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-workpermanently2

This article was featured in Pensions Aspects magazine July/August edition.

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Last update: 19 January 2021

Keith Hoodless
Keith Hoodless
Pensions Management Institute
Director of Qualifications and Lifelong Learning

Experienced Pension Administrator

Salary: £38000 pa

Location: Central London (some partial home working may continue)

Pensions Administrator (DC and DB)

Salary: £35000 pa

Location: West Midlands

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