After years of success in Chicago, Aon is helping other employers tap into the benefits of corporate apprenticeship programs.

These programs help employers build a talent pipeline of highly skilled and diverse professionals. As part of a major expansion to six U.S. metropolitan areas, Aon will lead the formation of a set of new local Apprentice Networks along with a number of other U.S. organizations. The goal: to create 10,000 apprenticeships across the United States by 2030.

“We’re in the war for talent with everybody else,” said Janet Osborn, resident managing director for Aon in Washington and Baltimore. “And we are using this as the talent strategy to try to get people who we believe will stay with us longer and contribute more to the firm.”

Benefits of Apprenticeship
Since it formed in 2017, the Chicago Apprentice Network has opened up new opportunities for more than 1,000 people. While each employer creates an apprenticeship model that works for their organization, the unifying idea behind the network is that the apprenticeships lower the barriers to entry for the corporate sector, such as four-year degree requirements – thus expanding employer access to talent.

In many cases, employers also pay for apprentices to pursue a degree at the same time. Each apprenticeship program has a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training, while earning a salary and benefits. At the completion of the program, apprentices have earned their associate degree, a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor and a promotion into a full-time role at the employer.

This is more important than ever: After the last year of economic upheaval caused by COVID-19, the apprenticeship programs offer new career opportunities. By removing some of the traditional barriers to entry-level employment, the program also helps contribute to local workforce development and diversity—ultimately strengthening workforce resilience.

“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.”

Building a Network
Aon, along with leading firms Accenture, JPMorgan Chase, The Hartford and Zurich Insurance, are partnering in six cities with chambers of commerce, political leaders, local educational institutions to build the foundations of a successful network of employers offering apprenticeships. The six U.S. metropolitan areas include Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, Houston and Northern California.

Together, these employers work to create their own apprenticeship models that:

  • Address a real talent need in the organization
  • Embed the program in the company’s operating fabric
  • Explore new avenues for finding talent, including candidates from non-traditional sources
  • Expand key relationships in the community and with clients
  • Through regular meetings, the employer networks support each other in defining their visions, identifying opportunities, executing a program model scaling the effort and expanding their reach.

    “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.”

    Read more about the history and value of apprenticeships at “What Apprenticeships Can Do for Companies – and for Workers.”