Digitisation and agility are crucial to meeting client’s needs in the increasingly fast-paced world of private banking – thus magnifying the need for highly-qualified IT specialists. As Andreas Fahrni, Head Global Information Technology at Julius Baer, explains, the bank is making an important contribution to IT education in Switzerland through its practical and wide-ranging IT apprenticeship programme.
Demand for qualified Information Technology professionals is growing faster than expected, with Switzerland’s National Vocational Training Institute, ICT Berufsbildung Schweiz, predicting that the Swiss economy will need around 118,000 additional ICT specialists by 2028.
This number is needed, on the one hand, to replace the IT specialists who have retired or left the profession. On the other hand, fresh talent is required to meet the increasing demand in the next eight years due to the expected economic growth in Switzerland and ‘structural changes. According to the authors of the ICT report, this demand is reflected by “the increasing proportion of ICT employees among a company’s total number of employees”.
In addition to this ‘supply issue’, the banking industry is changing fast on the demand side, too. The speed of change has increased rapidly in recent years in the face of changing client behaviour, the spread of digital channels, stricter regulations and the emergence of FinTech companies.
Digital natives are used to services being available ‘anytime, anywhere’. They expect the same when conducting banking transactions. Be it paying for an order, buying and selling stocks, or obtaining investment advice, they want to be able to do so – safely and securely – using any one of the increasing number of digital channels at their disposal. Moreover, regardless of which channel they use, the quality has to be right as this is what differentiates excellent service providers from the average.
Central role of IT
To keep pace with these developments, banks have had to revise their previous ‘delivery model’, provide state-of-the-art solutions, and above all increase their agility. The IT division is playing a central role in this, both in delivering state-of-the-art IT solutions and by investing in an agile environment that allows fast, highly automated deployment and testing. This is paired with a cultural transformation where business and IT work together hand in hand in agile teams to create new solutions for clients at a fast pace.
Julius Baer is continuously looking at the latest trends, deciding which ones will add value to our clients, and investing in appropriate capabilities such as data analytics, artificial intelligence or Blockchain. Partnerships with external service providers allow us to offer more capabilities in order to provide our clients with even better services.
On the supply side, too, our IT division is playing a crucial role by contributing to ICT education in Switzerland – and ensuring a steady pipeline of qualified new recruits – through our apprenticeship programme.
The apprenticeships we offer within the IT division cover the disciplines ‘Systems Engineering’, ‘Application Development’ and ‘ICT Specialist’. During the four-year training course, the trainees undergo practical assignments in the various IT units within our Bank, where they can deepen the theoretical knowledge they have acquired and apply them in practice.
The apprentices actively support their experienced teams to develop IT solutions for the Bank and support ICT projects – ranging from the design, construction and maintenance of IT systems to the development of applications.
Our goal is to provide the apprentices with the foundation and thus the basis for their later professional advancement. In addition, we hold various internal courses to develop and expand their skills and knowledge in a variety of areas. In the different camps and events we organise, the apprentices have the opportunity to strengthen cohesion and team spirit among one another.
Julius Baer is an attractive employer for apprentices, because they reap the benefits of a global company with the support and collegiality of a much smaller one. Our accessible structure, flat hierarchies and our approachable and supportive leaders provide a stimulating work environment.
Thanks to this unique programme, the apprentices develop into ambitious, independent and motivated personalities who are well equipped for the professional world after completion of the programme.