Media Do Actuarial Students Learn by Doing? We did! and Here’s What Developing a Virtual VAC Work Programme Taught us

Do Actuarial Students Learn by Doing? We did! and Here’s What Developing a Virtual VAC Work Programme Taught us

uploaded December 14, 2022 Views: 62 Comments: 0 Favorite: 1 CPD

Phenomena such as the great resignation, extensive brain drain and a troubled education system have made skills shortages a significant risk in South Africa. The actuarial profession is not immune to this risk.

The authors hypothesise that augmenting formal actuarial coursework with experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities during university years will create graduates who are better equipped to effectively apply their skills in the workplace.

Currently, experiential learning in South African actuarial training at university level consists mainly of vacation work programmes that cannot accommodate all students, lack consistent structure and purpose, and often do not provide adequate professional supervision. The authors investigate best pedagogical practices relating to experiential learning, exposing what can be done to create effective vacation work opportunities for all interested students. It is proposed that such measures would make students feel connected to the Profession and become more employable, confident and well-rounded.

This paper describes the untapped potential in the South African actuarial vacation work landscape. We investigate whether, by improving these offerings to be more focused, streamlined and goal-oriented, measurable value could be added for all stakeholders:

Students could become more attractive to and build relationships with potential future employers. They could form views of which practice areas appeal to them, enabling more proactive career management.

Employers, by building relationships with students, could spot talent and assess potential employees in much more depth than the traditional interview process allows. They could also benefit from the reduced time it would take graduates to acclimatise to working life.

Practising actuaries, by supervising students, could benefit from developing their normative and organisational skills.

Collaboration to create experiential learning opportunities could reinforce communication channels between the industry, universities and the Profession.

Practical outcomes for the audience:

Understand the current vacation work landscape and objectives of various stakeholders by reviewing the results of an industry-wide survey (capturing views of employers, students and universities) and interviews with key individuals in the profession.

Learn what is being done in other professions and contexts globally to prepare university students to add value to employers from day one.

Understand lessons learnt from the Actuaries In the Making (AIM) virtual vacation work programme case study, a fully virtual, scalable vacation work model for actuarial students designed and piloted by the authors in 2022.

Explore how actuarial students can become more empowered to develop themselves, promote the profession and find new ways to address societal problems.

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