Aon PLC is investing $30 million over the next five years to expand its apprenticeship program throughout the U.S.
The program, which launched in 2017 as the Chicago Apprentice Network in partnership with Accenture and Zurich Insurance Group featuring an initial class of 25 apprentices, has already grown to more than 40 Chicago-area employers with 740 apprentices.
The national expansion will begin in 2021 with a starting class totaling more than 100 apprentices in Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington.
Joining Aon, Accenture and Zurich in the expansion are J.P. Morgan Chase and The HartHartford Financial Services Group. The program will include partnerships with educational institutions and non-profit organizations to create the expanded network's infrastructure.
Michelle Hansen, senior partner, Midwest region retirement solutions leader and a member of the apprentice council at Aon, said in a phone interview that the program has been very successful at achieving its primary purpose.
"Honestly, it was an opportunity to find a different pool of talent that wouldn't normally find their way to our industry in insurance and retirement and investments," Ms. Hansen said.
Apprentices are given the same kind of responsibilities newly hired employees would take on in the retirement solutions group, Ms. Hansen said.
"They're involved in projects related to developing retirement strategy to implementation of that strategy and related analytics and administration," Ms. Hansen said.
The goal of the program is to develop a nationwide network of employers creating 10,000 apprenticeships in the U.S. by 2030.
Ms. Hansen said the hope is the network will include many more employers in addition to the five employers that are part of the national expansion of the program.