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Source: Zurich North America news release

Schaumburg, IL - To power the growth of crop insurance apprenticeships, Zurich North America and its crop insurance provider, RCIS, will work with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) to deliver agribusiness curriculum to a growing number of Zurich and RCIS crop insurance apprentices, who earn a full-time salary and benefits from their first day in the two-year program. Those who successfully complete it earn an associate degree and have a job and promotion waiting for them.

There's a significant increase in demand for apprentices to support Zurich's crop insurance business, RCIS, which serves farmers in several states. This increased demand led to the Zurich Office of Apprenticeship's new collaboration with NICC, which will provide education to crop insurance apprentices coast to coast through its remote learning platform.

'The first of its kind'
NICC created an online agribusiness program five years ago. The apprenticeship curriculum will include agriculture, business and general education courses relevant to agribusiness and insurance. Most classes are synchronous online, meaning apprentices will have live interaction with instructors and advisors using cutting-edge conferencing tools.

"Our new collaboration with Zurich to provide 14 of their apprentices with Associate of Applied Science degrees in Agriculture Business is the first of its kind at Northeast Iowa Community College," said Bruce Bearinger, NICC Dean of Agriculture, Animal Science and Transportation. "But we are already seeing other local agribusinesses show interest. I believe programs of this nature will be a large portion of the future success of community college career and technical education."

The pioneering Zurich Apprenticeship Program, launched in 2016, is hiring more than double the typical number of apprentices for the cohort that will start the program in August. Zurich is currently recruiting for 75 positions based in different areas of Zurich's business in 16 states.

Crop apprentices will be in states such as Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington. Other apprentices will be based in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Overland Park (Kansas), Philadelphia, San Francisco, Schaumburg (Illinois) and Winston-Salem (North Carolina).

"We are excited to expand our apprenticeship program once again," Kristof Terryn, CEO of Zurich North America, said. "Through education and on-the-job learning, apprentices develop skills that have tremendous value at Zurich and in the marketplace."

Approximately 14 businesses and functions at Zurich are hiring apprentices this year, some for the first time. There are opportunities in underwriting, claims, sales, IT, cyber, crop insurance, life, international programs, communications and more.

This year's cohort will be the largest in the history of Zurich's U.S. program, which was created to widen Zurich's talent pipeline and open new earn-and-learn career pathways for non-degreed talent, including high school graduates, career changers, those re-entering the workforce after a hiatus, and veterans.

Zurich starts a new U.S. cohort every year. From their first day, Zurich apprentices earn a full-time salary and benefits, including health insurance and paid time off. Apprentices work three days a week at Zurich and focus on coursework two days. Zurich covers their tuition. Upon completion of the two-year program, apprentices earn both an associate degree and a Department of Labor apprentice certification.

Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, will continue to provide education to apprentices based at Zurich's North American headquarters in Schaumburg, northwest of Chicago. Borough of Manhattan Community College will serve Zurich apprentices in New York City and in key expansion cities, via remote learning. In 2020, when Zurich decided to expand to New York, Zurich helped BMCC establish its first apprenticeship and Risk Management and Insurance curricula.

Another new education provider for Zurich, Harold Washington College in Chicago, will provide education to Zurich's Chicago-based apprentices. It has provided apprenticeship curricula to other companies that are part of the Chicago Apprentice Network, which Zurich co-founded with Aon and Accenture in 2017. The network has grown to over 70 employers today.

"We are proud to add Zurich North America as a leading employer that can provide students a fast track to great careers through apprenticeship," said Dr. Daniel Lopez Jr., President at Harold Washington College. "This is exactly what our college is here to do. We can deliver on our mission thanks to employers who are committed to investing in the communities where their people live and work."

Apprenticeship is common in Switzerland, the home of Zurich Insurance Group, of which Zurich North America is part. Zurich North America adapted the Swiss model when it launched its program, which became the first of its kind to be registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. For the first few years, Zurich apprentices were based exclusively at the company's North America headquarters in Schaumburg. In 2020, the program expanded to Zurich's New York office. In 2021, it expanded to Zurich's Atlanta office and Zurich's crop insurance business. Last November, Zurich announced its plans to expand to several more cities.

The Zurich Apprenticeship Program offers the opportunity to launch a career with a premier provider of commercial insurance products and services. Lifting degree requirements and covering the cost of college coursework removes two barriers to launching a promising career in business.

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