Working with employers: the USS employer training programme

17 July 2018

How we work with employers is essential to delivering our pension product to our members and supporting the member journey, ensuring that the scheme runs smoothly. Over the years we have worked closely with employers, via the Institutions Advisory Panel (IAP), to ensure that we are enabling employers to carry out key administration tasks, as well as receiving feedback on how we can do better.

In the 2017 employer perception survey, 80% of employers rated their overall relationship with USS as good or very good (up from 56% in 2016) but we know there is still more to be done.

Understanding how our employers work and their relationship with USS, such as how much work they have to put in to administer USS for their respective members and what underpinning knowledge they need, helps us understand how to better deliver the scheme.

USS is a complex hybrid scheme that requires a lot of effort from our employers to administer - in the 2017 employer perceptions survey, 61% of our employers said they have to put in a high amount of effort to administer the scheme to members – we wanted to work with employers on bespoke training courses to provide education and support for working with USS.

Collaborating with employers to push forward change

The only way to do this was to collaborate with our employers. An IAP training sub-group was set up with the specific aim of creating tailored training for employers, provided by USS, to help us work better together.

Over 10 months, 20 employers helped to co-design six training courses including creating materials and signing off what is to be delivered. Pilots of the training have been carried out for pension administrators and also interface courses.

The interface course is essential for pension team members who are responsible for completing the HR and Contributions interface – it is highly practical and gives a background understanding of the interfaces plus numerous tips on the successful completion of the interfaces, thereby improving accuracy and reducing the workload for all.

This resulted in a unique training programme being devised. Pilot groups launched this month and will continue to take place throughout July. The pilot groups aim to further consolidate the training courses, making sure that they are ready to be rolled out to all employers in September.

The six training courses are:

  1. Introduction to pensions for new Pensions Administrators (2 1/2 hours)
  2. Pensions Administrators programme for new staff (1 1/2 days)
  3. Pensions Managers Foundation programme for new staff (2 days)
  4. Pensions Administrator Abridged programme for existing staff (1 day)
  5. Pensions Managers Abridged Foundation programme for existing staff (1 day)
  6. Interface Training for the Pensions Team (half a day)

Each of the courses will be run a number of times with 28 courses being held in total. These commenced in June 2018 and run through until January 2019 and 1,500 employer representatives have already registered an interest.

The training courses are free and available to all USS employers who can book places for themselves and their teams via the online booking system.

We've already had the following feedback from the run-through of the administration programme:

“A very informative two days set at the right level and with extremely approachable and enthusiastic trainers.”

“Very well constructed course with all aspects of USS covered. It was very obvious that a lot of hard work and thought had gone into this course.”

“The course was excellent and useful for staff of all levels of experience.”

“The training course was very informative and ideal for new Pensions Administrators with little/no experience of the USS scheme.”

“I thought that the whole programme hit the mark.”

“The course was very well explained. I thought it met all goals and facts that we needed to be aware of. The materials were clear and concise, I felt it filled gaps in the training I have already received and more. I would certainly recommend this training.”

Jill Galvin Jill Galvin

Senior Learning &
Development Partner