Business UNusual Spotlight

Accenture and Chicago Apprentice Network Create Career Pathways

SDI DEI info in front of electric power lines station
Instead of...
Requiring a bachelor's degree for all entry-level positions
Has removed college requirements for nearly half of entry-level positions, increasing diversity & bringing in talent via apprenticeships
Today’s entry-level Accenture employee could come from City Colleges of Chicago or the University of Chicago, according to Michael Chiappetta, Accenture’s Director of Midwest Business Operations & Chicago Market Development, an advocate of apprenticeship programs.

Accenture has powered its U.S. hiring in recent years by removing degree requirements for nearly half its roles. Diversifying hiring sources has led to a more inclusive culture and attracted top talent from varied backgrounds, Chiappetta says.

Accenture’s Apprenticeship program

Accenture’s North America Apprenticeship program is a year-long, earn-and-learn, on-the-job training and coaching program that provides a pathway to a full-time role with career growth opportunities.

The program started as a pilot in 2016 to connect students from community colleges and local technology-focused nonprofits to careers at the Accenture Chicago office. Since then, the program has grown from five to 250 apprentices in Chicago, and over 2,000 apprentices in 40 Accenture offices across North America—many of whom now work in full-time roles in high-demand areas. In 2022, apprentices made up 20% of Accenture's entry-level hiring in the U.S.  

Scaling up with the Chicago Apprenticeship Network

To promote wider adoption of apprenticeship programs, Accenture partnered with Aon and Zurich North America in 2017 to create the Chicago Apprentice Network, which has grown to include more than 80 companies locally, including JP Morgan Chase, Rush University Medical Center, McDonald’s, and Walgreens.

The Network holds  events for apprentices and employers and builds awareness of the program among jobseekers. It also serves as a resource for employers who want to create their own programs. The Network’s Apprenticeship Playbook shows how Accenture, Aon, and Zurich North America structured apprenticeship programs reflecting each firm’s priorities and company culture.

Chiappetta is optimistic about the potential for apprenticeships as a key source of diverse talent. “I encourage business leaders to review attrition at entry-level roles as a starting point to start an apprenticeship pilot, leveraging successful examples across many industries and job functions,” he says. “My hope is that this talent strategy becomes business as usual in all companies in Chicago and across the U.S.”