Network co-founded by Aon, Accenture and Zurich now expands to include over 50 employers; Senator Durbin, Speaker Welch praise community impact
The Chicago Apprentice Network today announced it has surpassed 1,000 apprenticeships in the Chicagoland area since its creation in August 2017. Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions; Accenture (NYSE: ACN), a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security; and Zurich North America, a leading provider of insurance products and services to businesses and individuals, launched the Network to build a community for apprentices and the employers creating this new opportunity for talent.
The Network now includes more than 50 employers across 18 sectors, including finance, technology, consulting, retail and manufacturing – and continues to grow as employers see the value of opening new career pathways for diverse talent.
The milestone will be celebrated today at an event hosted by the Chicago Apprentice Network and attended by current Network employers and those considering apprenticeship positions, current and alumni apprentices as well as U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Speaker of the Illinois House Emanuel “Chris” Welch. The event will take place virtually at 11 a.m. CT today. Those interested in joining the event can register here.
“Creating opportunity is the bedrock of our country – and it is the job of both the public and private sectors. I applaud the employers of the Chicago Apprentice Network for building a bridge to talented young people, whether they be first-generation college students, Dreamers, young people of color or others,” Senator Durbin said.
“The skilled trades have long used apprenticeships to grow their talent. I applaud the Chicago Apprentice Network for building upon this model to bring apprenticeships to some of the fastest-growing parts of Illinois’ economy,” said Speaker Welch. “Congratulations to Aon, Accenture and Zurich for taking the lead to adapt the model, proving that removing the barriers to the corporate sector, such as four-year degree requirements, expands the access to talent.”
Every employer in the Network creates the apprenticeship model that works for their company. Aon’s model combines a two-year partnership with City Colleges of Chicago and College of Lake County to hire students in full-time roles while they study relevant courses. At the completion of the program, apprentices have earned their associate degree, a certification from the Department of Labor and a promotion into a full-time role. Aon began with apprentices in Commercial Risk, Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources, and has expanded to have apprentices in all solution lines and functions.
Accenture’s earn-and-learn model in Chicago places participants from community colleges and non-profit organizations into in-demand, client-facing roles as well as internal corporate functions including IT and finance. The 12-month program, featuring formal learning, on-the-job training and coaching to help build skills and advance careers, provides a pathway from a full-time role to a career with Accenture.
“The Chicago Apprentice Network delivers an important career jumpstart for candidates who might not otherwise have had a pathway into employers like Accenture, Aon or Zurich,” said Jim Coleman, Senior Managing Director of Accenture’s Chicago office. “Every Chicagoland company, no matter what the size, should have a talent strategy that includes an apprentice program.”
Zurich North America started with insurance apprenticeships in 2016 at its suburban Schaumburg headquarters, with Harper College as the education provider, and has since added cyber, IT and other tracks. Apprentices earn a full-time salary, benefits and tuition coverage and are promoted one level when they complete the two-year program. Since 2016, Zurich has hired over 118 apprentices. Zurich added apprentices in its New York City office in 2020 and is adding apprentices in Atlanta and select states served by Zurich’s crop insurance business RCIS in 2021.
“The case for expanding apprenticeship is stronger than ever,” said Al Crook, Head of Apprenticeship for Zurich North America. “Companies need diverse talent to deliver for their customers, and individuals need new pathways following COVID-19 disruption. The Chicago Apprentice Network provides resources and has proven the viability of this model. Apprenticeships can help make the pandemic recovery an inclusive recovery.”
In November 2020, Aon announced a $30 million investment to lead the development of a nationwide network of employers to create 10,000 apprenticeship roles throughout the country.
“The apprenticeship effort here in Chicago has brought many talented colleagues to our firm and we are pleased to see it creating great new opportunities for both apprentices and participating employers,” said Greg Case, Chief Executive Officer of Aon. “This is an innovative way for employers to attract and retain diverse talent, prepare future leaders and contribute to building a more future-focused, resilient workforce.”
Other employers in the network include McDonald’s, Walgreens, JPMorgan Chase and many more.
Building on the momentum of the Chicago Apprentice Network, Aon, together with Accenture, JPMorgan Chase, The Hartford and Zurich Insurance, are spearheading the expansion of apprentice networks in six U.S. metropolitan areas in 2021: Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; New York; Minneapolis; Houston and Northern California.
Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.
Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 537,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
About Zurich North America
Zurich North America is one of the largest providers of insurance solutions and services to businesses and individuals. Zurich customers represent industries ranging from agriculture to technology and include more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500. Zurich North America is part of Zurich Insurance Group, a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. Zurich North America’s LEED Platinum® headquarters is located in the Chicago area. Zurich employs approximately 9,000 people in the U.S. and Canada and approximately 55,000 globally. Visit us at www.zurichna.com and on social media: LinkedIn and Twitter.