Attracting and retaining talent is one of the top business challenges global organisations face – and Aon and Manchester United are no exception. To prepare for this challenge, both organizations place high value on positioning future leaders for success.

For Manchester United, that means readying the next generation of players to maintain the club’s unrivaled success. For Aon, that means constantly creating new and innovative solutions to remain a destination for the best talent and to ensure the firm is prepared to advise clients on how to prepare for and manage the risks of the future.

When the UK Government published the Insurance Growth Action Plan in December 2013, calling on the insurance sector to double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years, Aon was the first global risk adviser to take on the challenge. In March 2014, with the support of Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, Aon launched a groundbreaking collaborative apprenticeships program as part of the Government’s ‘trailblazer’ scheme designed to raise standards and align apprenticeships to the needs of business.

“I feel honoured to have the chance to speak to young people about my experiences as an apprentice,” said Manchester United Ambassador and legend Sir Bobby Charlton. “Apprenticeships are a great chance to work alongside experienced colleagues and mentors and learn from them every day. Hopefully they will be inspired to fulfil their potential from everything they have heard.”

Applauding the partnership with the Association of British Insurers, the Chartered Insurance Institute and the British Insurance Brokers Association, Dominic Christian, CEO of Aon Ltd said, “This program is the first of its kind for the risk management and insurance industry in the UK so we’re pleased to have played such a key part in it. The UK is the heart of the global insurance industry and at Aon we’re committed to empowering young people from all backgrounds with the training needed to ensure this important industry continues to play a pivotal role in the UK economy.”

According to Aon research featured in the International Business Times, young people are interested in apprenticeships; they just don’t know where to find them. Together, Aon and Manchester United devoted halftime activities at Manchester United’s victory against Stoke at Old Trafford on December 2nd to raising awareness of the value of apprenticeships. During the activities, current Aon apprentices took penalties against Manchester United’s aspiring goalkeeper Oliver Byrne who is currently rising the ranks at the club.

“I am so grateful for the training and attention I have received as an apprentice at Aon” said Alex Lee, who was among the firm’s apprentices selected to take penalties at halftime of the match. “While my apprenticeship has prepared me for a great deal of opportunities, nothing could have readied me to take a penalty in front of 75,000 fans.”

“I am in the very privileged position of working with young people on a daily basis,” commented John Shiels, Chief Executive of the Manchester United Foundation, at the event. “I find their in-the-moment energy, zest and optimism both contagious and inspiring.”

“One of the greatest gifts anyone can share with another person is their time and personal attention” Shiels added. “The mutually respectful relationships this creates helps to build a very strong positive environment. Everyone working collaboratively towards the greater good of the organisation can only help to further our impact.”

The Aon apprenticeship plan has resonated well with those seeking a future in insurance and risk management. “The Aon apprenticeships scheme is a great opportunity for those who might not want to go to university but need to build valuable professional skills,” said Daniel Kinlan, who started on the inaugural Aon apprenticeship scheme in 2012 and was recently recognized as the 2014 Broker Apprentice of the Year by Insurance Age Magazine. “My life has changed dramatically since school and I am developing my skill set faster than I ever believed I could.”

Aon’s apprenticeships program helped to establish a systematic framework of training and skills development to ensure that all insurance apprentices can expect the same rigorous training and qualifications wherever they work. While this is good progress, Aon understands there is still more work to be done. To make full use of the growing number of opportunities available, Aon believes that today’s apprenticeships must represent the changing global economy, and that young people must be properly educated about their options.

In order to secure the next generation of talent that can deliver winning performance on the pitch and in the boardroom, Aon is continuing to work with Manchester United to promote the importance of apprenticeships in the global economy.

For more information about or to sign up for Aon’s apprenticeship program, click here to visit the AON site.