A pair of big local employers are planning growth for a program to expand onramps to employment amid the COVID-19 recovery: Consulting firms Accenture and Aon announced an expansion of their apprenticeship network Monday, with the intention of creating 1000 new jobs in D.C. by 2025.
Alongside the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and other new employers, the pair is hoping to build on existing apprenticeship programs. The program is designed for applicants interested in the area’s tech and business industry, particularly those with non-traditional backgrounds or without college degrees.
“This is an opportunity for the entire business community to come together and rally around the next generation of workers and those that have been displaced by the pandemic, as well as the coming together in a way that will aid the vibrancy of the whole region,” said Marty Rodgers, Accenture market unit lead for the U.S. South.
Both plan to build on the existing apprenticeship program, which has hired apprentices in corporate roles, HR and finance. Janet Osborn, resident managing director of Aon in D.C., said that this round hopes to bring talent into client-facing roles. It’s a paid, year-round position that can be structured with school if the applicant and employer choose (In the past, both companies have arranged it as 12 hours of school and 28 hours in the workplace). The program covers tuition for students, and Osborn said many participants pick up a certificate or credential that is valuable beyond the program.
“We have one of the best education systems in the country here, and if we can match up the people who are interested and lacking access, with that education, and with this demand from employers, it’s just going to be tremendous,” Osborn said. “I think we’re going to have explosive growth. So all the elements are there. The idea is to put this network together to make those connections and bring this to life.”
The goal is to add new talent in the DMV and increase diversity in the industry.
“Talent, and grit, and hopes and dreams are equally distributed across every ward of the District and across all of Northern Virginia and Maryland. But opportunity is not,” Rodgers said. “And this is the opportunity for a public-private partnership to change that.”
Many apprentices go on to get jobs at the companies following the program. But with this expansion plan, Osborn and Rodgers said part of the goal is boosting the overall network and building connections that participants can take to other jobs in the DMV, via the Chamber of Commerce partnership. Osborn also hopes that the program expansion can help change the current perspective on apprenticeships.
“We want people to understand if they see apprenticeship on a resume that other employers recognize that as a very strong employment learning experience, and value that,” Osborn said. “[We want to] raise their awareness around apprentices and actually facilitate networking among the employers and among the apprentices themselves.”
Rodgers said that the aim at non-traditional applicants is a potential solution for some of the inequities in the job market that were made even more prevalent in the past year. He hopes that by not requiring a college degree or current enrollment in school, the program can make tech and business more accessible.
“It’s about meeting the potential employee where they are. It’s about meeting the student where they are. It’s about meeting the learner where they are,” Rodgers said. “And saying, we are in a situation that is really an emergent moment for the region, and for all of us as employers in terms of this skill gap and talent gap and we were willing to meet you where you are. So please come join us.”
Apply for Aon’s apprenticeship program at the link below by May 31: