Accenture , a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security; and Aon PLC, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, today announced the launch of the Greater Washington Apprentice Network. The Network was developed in conjunction with the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce; local skilling, education and nonprofit community partners; and a growing number of employers who are turning to non-traditional sources of talent to fill available roles.
Skilled trades have long used apprenticeships to grow their talent. Aon and Accenture have collaborated with Zurich North America to increase apprenticeship adoption among employers in Chicago, and have now expanded efforts to the D.C. area. Every employer creates the apprenticeship model that works for their company, but the unifying theme is that those programs lower the barriers to the corporate sector, such as four-year degree requirements – thus expanding employer access to qualified talent. And in some cases, apprentices are able to pursue a degree at the same time.
“Programs like Accenture’s and Aon’s offer a new talent strategy for companies that boosts diversity, equity and inclusion, strengthens communities, and doesn’t require a large investment,” said Julie Coons, President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “Working as a network of companies can lead to a stronger regional economy by closing the talent gap. The Chamber is proud to partner on this game-changing initiative.” The founding companies expect to convince enough D.C. employers to rethink their talent strategies to create 1,000 apprenticeship roles by 2025.
The launch of the Network and the aim to create 1,000 apprenticeships were announced on April 26 during a meeting of local business leaders, convened by Aon, Accenture and the Northern Virginia Chamber. Leaders discussed the impact of apprenticeships on building career pathways for those who need them. It also follows an announcement on April 23 that the Chicago Apprentice Network surpassed 1,000 apprentices since its launch in 2017. Additional local network launches are planned in 2021 in Northern California, Houston, Minneapolis, New York and Philadelphia.
“The value proposition for all organizations is clear,” said Janet Osborn, Resident Management Director for the Capital office at Aon. “Apprenticeship programs help build a resilient workforce with smart, driven colleagues from a pool of talent that is committed and ready to excel.” Aon’s apprenticeship model combines a two-year partnership with local community colleges to hire students in full-time roles while they study relevant courses. At the completion of the program, apprentices have earned their Associate’s degree and a permanent full-time role at Aon. Aon began with apprenticeships in Commercial Risk, Information Technology and Human Resources, and has expanded to have apprenticeships in all solution lines and functions. In the Washington, D.C. area, Aon is hiring apprentices into roles that will support client-facing teams.
Employer demand is increasing for a variety of digital economy roles, and apprenticeship programs can be an excellent way for talented individuals to get the training they need to have sustainable careers. Accenture first started its apprenticeship program in 2016 in Chicago. Designed to provide opportunities to those who may lack access to traditional recruiting channels, the earn-and-learn program features formal learning, on-the-job training and coaching to help build skills and advance careers and provides a pathway from a full-time role to a career with Accenture.
“Employers are facing a talent shortage and an extended skills gap, especially in the technology fields, and reskilling is essential to driving innovation and growth in our local economy,” said Marty Rodgers, Accenture Market Unit Lead, US – South. “At the same time, our area lags in inclusive economic growth. While talent, grit, and will to succeed are distributed equally across the DMV, opportunities are not. Apprenticeships can play a critical role in our region’s recovery and helping to build a more economically inclusive community.”