There’s surely no stronger proof that a business prides itself on an exceptional apprenticeship scheme than the current CEO themselves being a former apprentice – and that’s exactly the case at global finance firm UBS, which has over the past two years unleashed the might of its workforce through an innovative upskilling programme.

The origins of the Swiss investment bank’s successful talent pipeline lay in 2017, when the apprenticeship levy was pinned not just as a tax but an opportunity to take an entire workforce to the next level.

UBS got straight to work transforming the company’s school leaver apprenticeship programme from a small single business area programme to a whole-bank programme three times the size – all with a view to developing existing employees as well as recruits.

In 2018 this culminated in the launch of UBS Scholar – a world-class, innovative training programme run by a dedicated team within the global talent and recruiting function to equip employees with the skills of the future.

A vast suite of courses at different levels – from Level 4 data analyst to Level 7 senior investment services professional, for example – were opened up to UK employees, tailored specifically to the needs of the company’s workforce through dedicated programme managers’ close collaboration with training providers.

Thanks to this winning combination of excellent resources and teams specifically aligned to each programme, and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, many program participants have progressed in their career often moving into more senior or technical roles.

The success of the scheme has enabled the firm to go on to transfer up to 25 per cent of their levy to other firms and to help charitable partner organisations upskill their existing staff through the Scholar Community Affairs programme set up in 2019 – something the judges were especially impressed by.

Overall, the judges remarked on the way UBS has “managed to respond with agility to the current challenging context” and praised the firms’ tailoring of the programme to meet the needs of both businesses and employees. They not only lauded the sheer innovation of the project but the extensive data gathered to track its progress, constantly evaluate the company’s needs and continuously shape the training offered in-line with a changing landscape.

Management’s engagement with UBS Scholar was also notable, with judges stating it was “great to see line manager engagement activities and very strong engagement with training providers.” UBS engaged with managers at the start with dedicated Line Manager Insight Sessions to ensure they fully understand the requirements, commitment, and benefits of each programme.