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Chicago corporation head talks one solution to navigating labor shortage

Chicago corporation head talks one solution to navigating labor shortage
Chicago corporation head talks one solution to navigating labor shortage 02:14

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Many headlines these days refer to the "Great Resignation" or the "Hiring Pandemic."

The head of a huge Chicago corporation sits down with Morning Insider Lauren Victory to explain one solution to navigating the labor shortage storm.

More than 80 stories tall, the Aon Center is hard to miss in Chicago's downtown. The mega employer with a mega presence has escaped some of the pandemic's hiring hurdles.

"It's pretty remarkable in my role to sort of see an opportunity for wins everywhere," said Aon CEO Greg Case talking about the company's apprenticeship program in a sit-down interview with CBS 2. "This an idea that's been proven."

Prior to our interview, Case had been a speaker at Business Roundtable event alongside United CEO Scott Kirby. Case told the crowd about the apprenticeship program founded by Aon, Zurich North America and Accenture. It's been the company's answer to the recent labor shortage.

"We are in a different era," he said to the businesswomen and men in attendance at Harold Washington College. "It really requires innovation around talent."

CBS2 cameras captured that innovation in 2017 when we met Aon's inaugural class of apprentices who took on hard-to-fill entry level roles in exchange for Aon's coverage of college tuition. 

Victor Gutierrez was one of those bright young minds. He was paid, with benefits, for two years with the promise of an opportunity for a full-time job in the end. In the five years since that CBS2 story, Gutierrez has moved up to management.

"I'm actually in the process of hiring an apprentice so I've gone full circle," Gutierrez told us this week.

The Chicago Apprentice Network now partners with at least six local colleges and 70-plus companies to fill hiring holes with more than 1,500 apprentices.

"This should be 10,000-plus [apprenticeships] across the U.S., then 100,000-plus," said Case who is urging business leaders of small and medium-sized companies to climb on board.

CBS2 asked about the financial barriers that a company smaller than Aon, a behemoth, might face for adding apprentices to mix and paying for their college tuition in addition to a salary.

"This goes back to the idea of win-win. Talent is central to what all companies do," Case said. "This isn't about economics. You're going to spend money on talent someplace."

He has an open offer to learn about what could be the "New Normal': "Anybody out there who is listening, please reach out."

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