Building a workforce for the future
An Equitable Life Assurance Society case study

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Page 5: Induction programme

Designed as a flexible programme for new recruits, it consists of up to 8 weeks mainly off-the-job training. The Society feels it is important that individuals have a wide range of skills and aptitudes along with the desire to provide high quality service. These are:

  • interpersonal skills
  • desire to help clients
  • sensitivity to others
  • problem solving skills
  • product knowledge
  • understanding of the Society’s business aims
  • systems knowledge
  • innovation
  • understanding of the Society’s place in the business world.

The training & development programmes use a variety of methods to help each person develop. The idea for the Business Trainee Scheme first arose during a period when the Society had suspended general external recruitment following the introduction of new systems. It was felt that young recruits were needed to keep the Society vibrant. It would also help the local community at a time when job opportunities for young people were very limited. The foundation stones were:

  • concentrate on the local area (Aylesbury Vale)
  • recruit staff with the skills and attributes to serve customers well
  • training and development should include personal attitudes and skills
  • the recognition that each person would have different needs and would learn at their own pace
  • a wide variety of methods was needed
  • that trainees starting in September should be ready to help the business during its peak workload between February and April.

The recruitment process is seen as part of the training and development process. It is limited to pupils of schools and colleges within the Aylesbury Vale area and is ‘advertised’ through the schools and the local Careers Service. To obtain an application pack, it is necessary to attend a seminar giving more information about:

  • the Society
  • the Scheme
  • the talents the Society is looking for
  • useful hints on applying.

The emphasis is on the choice that applicants need to make – ‘Is the Society right for them?’ If so, apply. The application process is then designed to help the recruitment team assess whether the candidate is right for the Society. Although the Application Pack includes a great deal of information, the Application Form is simple in concept. The main information about the candidate is derived from a series of questions. These questions are designed to allow the candidate to show the qualities that the recruiters are looking for. These qualities include:

  • ability to work in a team
  • flexibility
  • initiative
  • sensitivity to others
  • ability to take responsibility for themselves.

Applicants are encouraged to be creative in their responses. The Society agrees to accept most formats and styles - after all they are looking for creativity and innovation. Successful applicants are invited to a selection day when they undergo:

  • interviews
  • aptitude tests
  • a group exercise
  • visits to the working environment.

It is hoped that this selection day is a useful experience in the development of all candidates. Once trainees have started to work for the Society, they will be given a series of learning targets for the first 10-12 months. Some of these will be standard for the Scheme but many of them will be individual. They will be set by trainers in consultation with the individual and others. The Society believes that individuals ‘learn by doing’ and by taking responsibility for their own learning. Each individual will, therefore, be involved in identifying his/her needs and suggesting how to meet them. A variety of learning methods are used including:

  • overviews by experienced staff from all areas of the Society
  • work shadowing
  • coaching and counselling
  • group training
  • recording individual learning in a training planner
  • projects
  • work placements
  • fact finding at various branches and areas throughout the Society
  • options to study for further qualifications
  • computer based and interactive video training courses
  • reading.

A proven success

The first trainees were recruited in 1993 and of a total of 31 trainees recruited, 29 remain with the Society today. This is an excellent retention rate, proving that recruits enjoy working through the training scheme and have begun successful careers with The Equitable Life.

The managers within The Equitable Life’s business units are very keen to have trainees working in their area and to encourage the continuation of their development.

Equitable Life Assurance Society | Building a workforce for the future