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Lifelong learning: why should you get involved?

Published on: 10 May 2018

Illustration of LearningLifelong learning is about individuals taking responsibility for their own personal development. We live and work in a continually changing and challenging world; technology is moving at an unprecedented pace, and as professionals we must adapt and change to meet the needs of this new world of work.

As the professional body supporting actuaries, we are committed to ensuring our members have access to resources that will support their career journey, and we have a dedicated team committed to identifying lifelong learning opportunities and promoting these as widely 
as possible.

Lifelong learning involves collaboration with other providers. Employers provide a significant contribution and we want to complement their offering. We are also investigating partnerships with other associations and education providers. We have already seen success with both CAA Global and CERA Global Association. Other initiatives may follow as we explore wider fields for actuaries, including the key topic of data science.

How will the IFoA support its members?

We will be developing partnerships with organisations and other associations in order that our members can access learning activities that are relevant and current. We have developed a new area on the website, the information will signpost to courses, events, and offer practical suggestions for ways in which to engage with lifelong learning:  

  • Data science: Experts in this field can add tremendous value to businesses, and the IFoA is working closely with other associations on a stand-alone certificate to give our members a recognised professional qualification. The Modelling, Analytics and Insights from Data (MAID) working party has identified an online course on this subject offered by Coursera and we plan to provide further recommendations as they develop.  
  • Career support: The IFoA has linked with Career Farm, a company working with executives to help them manage their careers, as part of a pilot scheme to explore an online tool on career management. We are offering a limited number of places to members to participate in this scheme. If you are interested, please email EP&  
  • General business and management skills: We have reviewed the Masterclass videos, and provided links to these short presentations covering a variety of subjects, from unconscious bias to how to deliver a presentation.  
  • CERA and risk management: On this page we have provided details of how to attain the CERA Global qualification.  
  • Thought leadership: This page is a quick reference guide, which looks at the groundbreaking research being undertaken and highlights current events promoting the research.  
  • Events: In May, there are approximately 15 events being run by the IFoA, in accessible formats enabling us to engage with our members wherever they are in the world.

Why should members engage with lifelong learning?

Chris Bristow, head of education partnerships and lifelong learning, explains: “We each need to take responsibility for our own careers, because if we don’t, no one else will. In this volatile, fast-moving, complex and global business environment, doing just that becomes even more important. The actuarial landscape is no different to any other business activity.’’

Lifelong learning is not just about developing your existing area of expertise, or switching to another actuarial specialism. It is about acquiring the skills and knowledge required to work in a changing world. It is about enhancing your current skillset and empowering you to take steps into new, perhaps non-traditional sectors, or to develop your own business idea. Research shows that many of us change roles after four to five years. Lifelong learning helps us to build the portfolio careers we need to adapt to a changing environment.

Isn’t lifelong learning another name for CPD?

Clifford Friend, director of engagement and learning, explains why CPD and lifelong learning are different: “Continuing professional development (CPD), is understandably regulatory-focused and fairly short-term. Lifelong learning is more about individuals making decisions and taking ownership over what they learn.” CPD is very much set in the present, focusing on an individual’s requirements to undertake their current role effectively. Lifelong learning, on the other hand, is a forward-looking concept, which allows individuals to choose what they want to study, to meet their own objectives or a learning need that they themselves have identified.

How might I identify my learning objectives?

The steps below will help:  

  • Reflect: Check the competencies against your current role and future ambitions  
  • Plan: Identify what skills and knowledge you need and how best to acquire them  
  • Do: Take courses, read articles, find a mentor, look online, volunteer  
  • Record: Write down everything you do, how far it met your objectives, the impact on your work.

What the future holds

We will continue to develop the lifelong learning agenda and will seek your feedback to ensure it includes the resources and support for your career development in the changing workplace. The webpages can be accessed at:

If you would like to tell us about your lifelong learning journey or share your views or ideas in this area, please contact Patrina Effer, the IFoA’s senior lifelong learning executive: