Experts who’ve paved the way with apprenticeship programs
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Experts who’ve paved the way with apprenticeship programs

20 days ago · 4 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Apprenticeships are an effective strategy for broadening the talent pool and promoting career development, but as they are different from internships, some employers unfamiliar with the concept may need resources and support, and benefit from firsthand accounts.

Engaging with the Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners provides structure and curriculum, and employers have access to additional resources and support as they join these employment programs.

In addition to tapping resources from AICPA® & CIMA® and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), organizations can look to major corporations that have successfully created apprenticeship programs. To kick-start the Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners, lean on resources and firsthand experience from the experts.

Although this will be uncharted territory for many, that should not deter employers from starting an apprenticeship program. Support systems exist and trailblazers in this area are happy to share their expertise.

How to build an apprenticeship program

Once you register your apprenticeship with AICPA® & CIMA®, trained personnel who are familiar with the intricacies of apprenticeships and regulations will lend their expertise, serving as a “concierge service.”

AICPA is an intermediary sponsor for its apprenticeship within the DOL, meaning all the heavy lifting is done for you. Employers wanting to register apprentices under this program utilize the AICPA’s learning curriculum. And the concierge staff will be available to walk you through the process of registering apprentices and reporting on their progress. .

“Our employer concierge service ensures that registration, reporting and funding are turnkey operations,” said Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, executive vice president–Business Growth & Engagement at AICPA & CIMA. “We provide a white-glove service because it is our goal to ensure fast and efficient administration of the apprenticeship program for our employers.”

Apprenticeship.gov, through the DOL, can answer more questions employers may have as they embark in this process. The employer fact sheet will answer basic questions on the goals of registered apprenticeships and how these are proven solutions for the current workforce landscape.

Growing an apprenticeship takes time, Hood said.

“Other professions have shared with us that the growth of their program resembled a hockey stick,” Hood said. “It builds slowly at first, then takes off. Similarly, we envision that once the flywheel starts, this program will take off.”

Accenture and Aon are two corporations that started employer-sponsored apprenticeship programs through the DOL. While the apprenticeship programs differ slightly from AICPA’s, there is much to learn from their perspective on why apprenticeship programs work.

Keys to success from Accenture

Global tech company Accenture started its apprenticeship program in 2016, and one year later, along with Aon, co-founded the Chicago Apprentice Network. Now it’s expanded to include nine regional networks in total, connecting employers to a wide variety of resources that drive apprenticeship opportunities.

“Apprenticeship programs create new career pathways for talented people who haven’t had the opportunity to work in the tech industry,” said Jordan Rambo, Philadelphia Metro office managing director with Accenture.

Rambo understands firsthand that, once established, apprenticeships offer a company numerous benefits. Some of the biggest benefits can be felt in the widening of talent pools.

“There are many people who, for a variety of reasons, including their financial situation, lack access to higher education or professional jobs,” said Rambo. “Our apprenticeships typically last 12 months and include formal learning, on-the-job training and coaching to help apprentices build their skills and advance their careers.”

“Apprenticeship programs drive workforce development and create economic opportunities in the communities in which we work and live,” said Rambo.

Aon expanded the pathway

When Aon, a global professional services company, started its two-year apprenticeship program, the move required a paradigm shift.

“We always had this philosophy that if you want to come into our organization, you have to come out of a four-year college program,” said Marc Armstrong, managing principal at Aon, based in Philadelphia. “We took a step back. As we look to create a more resilient workforce and diverse talent pool, does that really still hold up?”

Implementing an apprenticeship program was the perfect fit for Aon’s goals for diversity and inclusion (D&I). The program opened up full-time corporate jobs to those without a traditional four-year degree.

“Talent is equally distributed, while opportunity is not,” said Armstrong. “Apprenticeships are a great way to bring greater diversity to an organization as it provides opportunities to employees who’ve been displaced by economic transformation.”

The expansion of the talent pathway additionally builds a more resilient workforce — and that, added Armstrong, is how to get human resource departments on board.

The benefits of apprenticeships abound. Apprentices bring new perspectives and life experiences to any organization, and current employees can benefit from hearing these new ideas. This can positively influence client and community interactions “as diversity in thought and experience can drive better outcomes,” said Armstrong.

“We’re in the problem-solving business,” said Armstrong. “We work with companies on key issues around risk, health and retirement. We know that when we have a more diverse talent pool working on those problems, we come up with better-informed insights and advice for our clients.”

Apprenticeships change the approach to recruitment and retention

Apprenticeships are changing approaches to staffing, upskilling and recruitment. Once organizations commit and launch an apprenticeship program, they’ll be at the forefront of change. Establishing a program ensures the sustainability of the accounting and finance profession and solidifies a commitment to increasing access to well-paying jobs.

“I would tell employers on the fence that we are marrying a world-class learning program with a proven earn-while-you-learn model, providing structure and, in some cases, even access to funding,” added Hood. “There’s little risk involved. And I would ask them to consider the risk of not investing in training, in not growing their pipeline, in not having a more inclusive workplace.”

Contact apprenticeshipsUS@aicpa-cima.com to learn more about the AICPA® & CIMA® Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners.

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