Zurich Insurance Group plans to establish an apprenticeship program in the U.S. to help attract and train young people for careers in the insurance industry.
Zurich said it is committed to putting into practice a program modeled after Switzerland’s national apprenticeship system as an alternative to college. Two-thirds of Swiss school-leavers enroll in such vocational training programs that combine work experience with higher education in around 230 occupations.
Earlier this year business leaders of Swiss-owned companies operating in the U.S. met at the White House with U.S. cabinet members and the Swiss Vice President and Federal Councillor to discuss making the U.S. business environment more welcoming to foreign direct investment by improving skills development programs, such as apprenticeships.
“Our program is the first of its kind in the U.S. insurance industry and therefore has an important role to play in demonstrating the value of apprenticeships in this sector,” said Mike Foley, CEO North America Commercial and regional chairman of North America for Zurich Insurance Group. “Our experience in Switzerland has shown us that apprenticeships are a very powerful way of developing core business competencies and inspiring young people to take on new challenges.”
William Rainey Harper College, a community college in Palatine, Illinois, will provide Zurich with administrative support and help design the course curriculum. The inaugural class will begin in 2016, and Zurich said it is committed to having 100 apprentices by 2020.
The U.S. program will draw on the success of Zurich’s apprenticeship program in Switzerland. The insurer said that program trains in total more than 230 apprentices and high school graduates. In 2014, 94 percent of those who had completed their apprenticeship went on to find employment within Zurich, the company said.
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