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Interview context:

We spoke to Aviva employees Sophie Gray (UK Apprenticeship Lead) and Callum Penny (Apprentice Claims Handler) about the importance of careers education, apprenticeship programmes and why they decided to become a Cornerstone Employer in Norwich Opportunity Area. 


Interview with Sophie Gray

What programmes and activities do Aviva deliver for young people?

Sophie – “We have a number of different programmes working with schools and colleges, supporting them with activities like mentoring, coaching, CV writing, work experience and internships. One of the most exciting activities are Hackathons, where students are invited to solve real business problems at Aviva.”

What apprenticeship opportunities are available?

Sophie - "We have had apprentices in areas such as financial services, software development, business analytics and legal.  Apprenticeship opportunities are based on our business area growth plans and capability needs alike.  These aren’t a set number each year, so as and when we realise roles and skills we require, we’ll consider whether there is an Apprenticeship scheme that fits.  We hope that in 2019 we’ll have a similar number to last year, however it’s not about scale but rather the skills we can develop for colleagues and our business.  Apprenticeships are a great way of building skills for new employees but also developing existing staff skills so that we can retain our talent"

Why did Aviva decide to become a Cornerstone Employer?

Sophie – “Simon Corke, (who leads the UK Learning team) recognised that Aviva have a duty of care to be good citizens in the local community.  He was receiving numerous requests of support from schools and colleges and wanted a structured approach to engaging them.  The Careers & Enterprise Company helped us by connecting us to a network which allows us to effectively work with schools and colleges in Norwich.” 

Why is employer engagement with careers education important for Aviva?

Sophie – “We are a global organisation and its important to develop a pipeline of talent.  Working with The Careers & Enterprise Company as a Cornerstone Employer reminds us of our duty and commitment to young people.  Engaging with careers education also connects Aviva with likeminded organisations and helps to develop our thinking as well as enabling us to explore different routes for apprentices to join Aviva.”

What advice would you give to businesses thinking about getting involved in careers education?

Sophie – “Test and learn and give everything a go! When we started, we had little knowledge of apprenticeships, but as we’ve tested and learnt we realise how beneficial it’s been for the company.  By not getting involved businesses won’t know what the outcome could be.  Getting involved in careers education can offer new ways of working, open up new connections and help develop a future strategy for talent development.”

What value has Aviva found by working with The Careers & Enterprise Company in particular?

Sophie – “It helps remind us of our role to be good citizens in the communities where we work.  The Careers & Enterprise Company helps to bring consistency to the key agenda items in careers education and helps us to stay focused and deliver on calls to actions that are meaningful for young people.”


Interview with Callum Penny

How did you find out about the apprenticeship at Aviva, and what other options were you considering?

Callum – “I found the apprenticeship online.  I had a variety of options to explore, but because I didn’t get the best grades at school, I wanted to get a qualification against my name.  An apprenticeship seemed like the best option for me and I was fortunate to find the apprenticeship at Aviva. They are a great company to work for!”

What do you enjoy about being an Apprentice at Aviva?

Callum – “I feel very comfortable working at Aviva.  I was nervous when I first started but a year later, I feel like I am a valued member of the team.  I enjoy speaking to customers and helping people but it’s the environment at Aviva that I enjoy the most.  When I left school, I thought there wasn’t much I could offer the world but now I know that I can take on the world!”

What advice would you give to a young person considering their post-school options.

Callum – “It all depends on who you are as a person.  Some people might want to go to university and others may want to get an apprenticeship.  Take the time to research the various options that are out there and do it early.  Once you have researched the options reflect on who you are as a person and then you’ll have a better idea of the options best suited for you.  And remember you are not stuck in a career forever.  You can change and go into something else. I went from working in retail to becoming a Claims Handler at Aviva.  If I can do it, so can you.”