Jude Pilcher highlights the benefits of the apprenticeship programme at Zurich and hears from one of the firm’s young professionals
Apprenticeships are a crucial part of the talent acquisition and development programme at Zurich UK. Every year, we are astounded by the high quality of candidates we welcome into our business through this route.
In response to the demand for these roles, we doubled the number of openings in 2021. This trend is echoed by recent research from UCAS, which revealed that 56% of 17- to 19-year-olds who are not planning on starting a traditional degree course this year are considering an apprenticeship scheme.
To ensure we can attract a wide range of diverse talent to the business, we have also partnered with the BYP Network, founded to actively connect young black professionals with career opportunities. In addition, we are a signatory of the BITC The Race at Work Charter, reflecting our commitment to tackling any barriers to the recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees.
Zurich’s apprenticeship programme has been running since 2014 and offers posts lasting from 18 months to three years. The positions available span a significant proportion of the business units within the company, such as claims, underwriting and actuarial, as well as roles in IT and operations. Places are available across the UK, including London, Fareham, Glasgow, Birmingham, Swindon and Cardiff.
As a UK employer, we want to provide opportunities for applicants across as much of the country as we physically can.
We are also incredibly proud of our retention rates. Of the candidates that applied in 2019, 93% have remained with the company and the same is true of 83% of the previous year’s candidates.
In a further commitment to young talent, in September 2021 Zurich UK partnered with a UK university to sponsor a three-year degree programme that will see apprentices graduate with a BSc (Hons) Digital & Technology Solutions Degree, specialising in either business management, software engineering or business analysis.
Amy Sisson, 22 (pictured) started her apprenticeship with Zurich three years ago. She says: “When I was looking for an apprenticeship scheme, I was really keen to find a business that was clearly aligned to my personal values. Zurich’s commitment to sustainability, diversity, inclusion and flexible working really struck a chord with me as I could see it genuinely puts people at the heart of its business. I knew it was somewhere I would be comfortable investing my time for the long term.
“In many ways, completing the apprenticeship is the easy part, as it is within your control. The encouragement and support from management and mentors around the business is crucial and really helps you find your way in the workplace. One of my managers nominated me for the CII Young Achiever Award, which has been a highlight of my career to date.
I was lucky enough to win second place – as the only apprentice there I was absolutely thrilled.
“My ethos has been to ‘put my hand up for every opportunity’ since I started, which is advice I would give to any apprentice. It means you can find your passion points quickly and pursue them. This has really paid off
for me as I have now been involved in so many projects right through to AI and automation – which I have loved.
“I started a degree before I joined Zurich, so it has always been in the back of my mind that I would like to revisit this one day. I am delighted that I have just started my degree apprenticeship with Zurich, which is the next phase of my journey. I am studying digital and technology solutions – if I had not taken such an interest in the AI and automation projects, I may not have considered this course.
“This is fully funded by Zurich and the apprenticeship levy, so it is a great opportunity for me to resume my studies while still securing amazing work experience for the other four days of the week. What’s not to love?”
Apprenticeships at Zurich span far wider than new entrants into the profession. It is a great way to future-proof our workforce and give them the skills and qualifications they need to move into new business areas.
This runs right through to employees in their 50s who might normally be thinking about winding down. They can develop a whole new set of skills and in some cases, start a whole new career if they want to. It gives people both the confidence and opportunity to expand into areas they would never dream of considering such as data, cyber security, and automation.
For employers, it is a win-win; it enables us to future-proof our workforce for the future, today.
Jude Pilcher is people development consultant at Zurich
Image Credit | Shutterstock
CII Aspire Apprenticeship programmes help you to build the right expertise in your business – and make it easier for you to attract and develop the best people. For more information, visit: www.cii-aspireapprenticeships.co.uk