Chicago Apprentice Network: Scaling and Replicating a Successful Apprentice Network Model

Professional apprenticeship programs are an innovative method of talent acquisition that mirror apprenticeships historically used in fields such as advanced manufacturing and other skilled trades. Apprenticeship programs help address today’s skills needs and talent shortages while furthering efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. By recruiting from highly diverse sources such as community colleges and technical bootcamps, companies can utilize an apprenticeship program as an alternate entry point for roles that traditionally require a specific degree or professional experience. An apprenticeship is an opportunity for motivated, high-potential individuals to gain the required training, professional skills development and experiential learning to fill open roles. Such programs can also offer reskilling opportunities to people interested in changing careers, re-entering the workforce and/ or whose jobs have been—or will be—disrupted by technology.

To meet emerging talent demands in the Chicago area, Accenture and Aon independently developed professional apprenticeship programs. Accenture launched its apprenticeship program in 2016, hiring candidates from City Colleges of Chicago. Accenture’s one-year program focuses on indemand technology roles including cybersecurity, data analytics, software engineering and business operations. Aon implemented its DOL-recognized apprenticeship program in 2017, partnering with City Colleges and local non-profit One Million Degrees, which provides wraparound support to apprentices and managers. Aon’s 24-month program focuses on roles in its insurance, information technology and human resources departments.

Both programs allow apprentices to earn and learn by receiving paid, structured training and valuable work experience and mentorship while earning a competitive salary. The goal is for apprentices to gain relevant credentials, lay the foundation for future opportunities applicable to their roles and continue as full-time employees upon completion. Ultimately, these programs can increase employee productivity and fill talent needs.

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