HAMPSHIRE employer Zurich is doubling the number of apprenticeship places available in 2021.

It will take on 30 apprentices this year and a significant number will be in its Whiteley office.

Apprenticeships are open to all ages, with school leavers and recent graduates encouraged.

Zurich UK is also partnering with the BYP Network, founded to connect young black professionals with career opportunities.

The insurer’s apprenticeship scheme has been running since 2014 and will offer posts from 18 months to three years, in fields from claims and underwriting to actuarial and IT and operations.

Of the candidates who applied in 2019, 93 per cent have remained with the company, along with 83 per cent of the previous year’s candidates.

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Michelle Ransome, lead talent acquisition business partner at Zurich Insurance, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the BYP Network and as a signatory of the BITC The Race at Work Charter, Zurich has already committed to tackling any barriers to the recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees.

“We are a UK-wide employer so ensuring we are represented throughout all the regions is of paramount importance. Our communities’ matter to us. Even as we approach a ‘post-pandemic world’, there remains a large shadow cast over the jobs market - competition for apprenticeship places is even more intense.

“We’ve therefore seen applications for all our graduate and apprenticeship schemes soar as students look to jump the jobs queue and gain valuable experience to set them apart from the pack.

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“Completing a successful apprenticeship scheme will help school leavers and recent graduates build their skills, network and employability – which will be even more crucial as the UK economy makes it’s tentative steps towards recovery. Young people are the future of our business and Zurich has recently invested £1million in future-proofing its workforce so it can build truly adaptable and agile teams, helping our employees futureproof their careers.”

Kike Oniwinde, chief executive of the BYP Network, said: “We are really pleased to be partnering with Zurich to help attract and nurture Black talent whilst ensuring that Zurich is an employer of choice to the community. This includes an event centred on thought leadership along with tips and tricks to getting in and excelling within Zurich.”

Candidates interested in the apprenticeship scheme can practice online before they apply, using video game-style cognitive tests. Zurich says the use of gamification application tools is proven to significantly increase applicant satisfaction and completion rates, especially where video interviews are so necessary during lockdown. Applications are already open at Zurich.co.uk