Aon is expanding its pioneering corporate Apprenticeship program with an investment of $30 million over the next five years. The firm will lead the formation of new Apprentice Networks in six new cities across the United States, building on the successes of the Chicago area and London programs, which have helped bridge the gap between education and employment.
Aon’s apprenticeship program already provides opportunities for people from a broad range of backgrounds to develop vital skills in the workplace while continuing their studies – all the while earning a salary as they learn. At the end of their two-year-long program, apprentices may seek permanent positions with competitive salaries, benefits, and financial support for the cost of education. Aon provides apprenticeships across all its solution lines and functions, including departments such as human resources and information technology.
The program has helped Aon build a talent pipeline of highly skilled professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. As part of Aon’s global commitments to further embed inclusion and diversity into the firm’s culture, expanding the Apprenticeship program will help build a more resilient workforce and drive better outcomes for our clients and greater impact in our communities.
“The apprenticeship program has brought so many talented colleagues to our firm and we know it has tremendous potential to create new opportunities and professional networks for both apprentices and participating employers across the United States,” 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.”
Three Aon apprentices tell their own stories about how the program has helped develop their careers.
Theresa Barney is an US IT Associate – Technology Support. She started her career as an intern at Morningstar as a Desktop Support Technician. As part of Aon’s inaugural U.S. Apprenticeship, she trained in project management. Theresa has developed foundational PM skills and stretched to become an IT Project Coordinator/Junior Project Manager.
I learned about the Apprenticeship program through an advertisement on City Colleges website while attending Richard Daley College. What was most attractive was the full-time position after the apprenticeship. To me, that meant more opportunities to explore, develop soft skills and network.
I have worn multiple hats as an apprentice. From voice/systems administrator, workplace support, and as a Project Coordinator.
I was and am in a position that challenges my intellect and stretches me as a professional. It’s a challenge but rewarding.
I believe this apprenticeship program has developed some resilient and determined former apprentices. There is a saying, smooth seas do not create skillful sailors. And looking back on those who went through the program with me, I am amazed by our resilience and ability to persevere – with the determination to be great, social, skillful junior professionals, and exceptional leaders.
Ashley Kranz is originally from Joliet, Illinois, and graduated from Harold Washington College in December 2018. Ashley was part of the inaugural year of the Aon Apprenticeship Program in Chicago. She now works full-time at Aon as Early Careers Talent Development Coordinator, and helps manage the expansion of the Apprenticeship program.
When I saw the description of the apprenticeship program, I thought it was too good to be true! What appealed to me was getting paid to go to class. I was already working 40+ hours at a warehouse on top of going to school full-time, so being able to condense work and school was a huge weight lifted off of me.
After an extensive interview process, I was hired to work on our benefits team within the People Organization. I had many challenges: I had never lived anywhere besides Joliet, but now I moved to Chicago. City life and taking the train was new to me. Plus, I had no office experience, and saw quickly there was much to learn about corporate life. Managing time and prioritizing different business needs while attending school was a little challenging as well.
But the program provided so much support, and I saw quickly I wasn’t alone. My manager knew my situation and set aside the time needed to get me up to speed and explain (or many times re-explain) things to me. As apprentices, we also had Professional Development sessions every Friday between classes, we met with our coordinator every week, and the company in general had numerous trainings and Lunch & Learns that were open to all colleagues.
One thing that surprised me: I was responsible for real projects! I really thought I would be doing more administrative type work. But I quickly found out that my voice and opinions mattered. The culture at Aon was also shocking – but in a good way! Everyone I have come across is willing to assist you with anything that is needed – all you have to do is ask. More times than not if you ask someone to speak about their experience, they will give you time.
One thing I learned from being an apprentice that still helps me today is to not be shy or timid. Ask the questions, ask for clarifications, make it known you want opportunities. I’m very fortunate to have learned that and now am in a position to use my network and platform to continuously teach the new cohorts of apprentices and younger generations, within Aon and beyond, to use their voice.
The possibilities of this program are endless. It will open doors that weren’t even thought of.
Ed Richardson is a Treaty Reinsurance Broker at Aon. He began his career as a part of Aon’s inaugural U.S Apprenticeship cohort and gained extensive training in reinsurance, holding roles in Client Services and Treaty Broking. After graduating from Harold Washington College and completing his apprenticeship, Ed moved to a full-time role with Aon in January 2019.
The apprenticeship program offered to pay for my two-year degree and give me corporate experience. They even wanted people with no prior experience. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get into a career.
As an apprentice, I worked in Reinsurance Solutions. One challenge was adjusting to the concepts of my job because I had never heard of reinsurance before!
The biggest surprise was just how much my colleagues were invested in helping me learn. Aon colleagues have taught me a great deal about life goals and career goals.
After finishing my apprenticeship as a reinsurance broker, I was assigned clients. Aon is a firm that’s heavily focused on clients, so I knew how important my role was to represent Aon on client accounts. I became more responsible and worked harder to service my clients.
I think Aon benefits from this program by bringing in more diverse talent and ideas. And I think our community benefits from the investment into the workers that live there.
Aon will initiate the expansion of the Apprenticeship program with a starting class of more than 100 apprentices next year in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. With this expansion, Aon will lead the development of a nationwide network of employers to create 10,000 apprenticeships across the United States by 2030.