Banking apprenticeship We must invest in talent

The commercial apprenticeship is becoming less popular as more and more young people are choosing an academic education. However, UBS sees apprenticeships as a key tool for preparing and supporting the next generation of employees.

Is the commercial banking apprenticeship soon to be a thing of the past? Stefan Seiler, Global Head Talent & Recruiting, and Patrick Stolz, new Head HR UBS Switzerland, on the future prospects of this training program.

More and more young people in Switzerland are choosing the academic path. Is the commercial apprenticeship being driven out?

Stefan Seiler: If you look at the statistics, then that's the way it looks. And yet one of the strengths of Switzerland is the dual educational system. In addition to the outstanding academic options, we continue to need vocational training. It enjoys high recognition and acceptance in the labor market and provides young people with a good start to their career. The framework conditions are optimal since you can get further qualifications at universities of applied sciences or via continuing technical training.

Particularly under pressure is the commercial apprenticeship in the financial sector, whose share of the entire commercial training offering has fallen from 16 to 8.5 percent since 1997.

StS: This is not the case at UBS. We are currently training some 900 apprentices and the number has remained constant over the past few years. But today we have to do more in the way of marketing and offer interesting education and further training in order to attract young people as competition has increased. Investing in young talent is crucial.

In view of increasing digitization, the question arises as to how long we can retain this high number of trainees.

Patrick Stolz: We are committed to actively supporting the successful educational landscape in Switzerland. The numbers Stefan Seiler mentioned also prove this. Increased digitization will certainly influence the need for commercially trained people in the future. We will undertake strategic planning for possible scenarios in cooperation with the business areas.

What prospects do graduates from the commercial apprenticeship program have?

PS: Those who complete an apprenticeship with us will also be very well positioned in the labor market in the future. UBS offers all successful apprentices a position if they finish their training with a recommendation. In addition, we then support them with further training. But it’s clear that the training will adapt to the ever-changing job profile. We have no choice but to train our people ourselves because the Swiss labor market is too small for us to be able to cover our requirements for skilled people from there.

How important are bank entry programs for graduates of high schools, universities and universities of applied sciences at UBS?

StS: The concept has proven itself. It makes it possible for those beginning their careers to get insights into a broad range of tasks at the bank. This is an important prerequisite for interdepartmental collaboration and mutual understanding. In addition, it provides the opportunity to get to know still unfamiliar job profiles.

What is UBS doing to solve the shortage of skilled workers?

StS: The most effective measure is to train up specialists ourselves. We currently have around 1,800 employees in our Young Professionals programs, such as apprenticeships, internships and the introductory-level programs for high school leavers and university graduates. In addition, many employees study part-time while working.

Traditional career models are no longer enough when it comes to attracting millennials. What approaches are you pursuing here?

PS: The challenge will be to offer suitable solutions for all generations - from baby boomers to Generation X to millennials. For millennials in particular, who look for new challenges every two to three years, UBS offers development opportunities in a wide range of different fields. The aim is now to give them mandates in which they can prove themselves - and then they are allowed to move on within the business and take up new challenges.