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“Young people are an asset to any team"

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern business, nurturing young talent is not just an option but a necessity. Today, we sit down with Felix Häberli, Head of Young Talents at Sunrise, to discover more about the company's apprenticeship programme.

Marisa Malhotra

June 28, 2024 . 4 minutes read

Can you share your journey in leading the Young Talents programme at Sunrise? What drew you to this role?

“I began my career at Sunrise Communications AG on January 1, 2000. Initially, as an HR specialist, I collaborated with a colleague from British Telecom to establish the Training and Development Department. Following the merger between Sunrise and diAx, the position of Head of Vocational Training became available. Having previously mentored apprentices in my team, I decided to apply for the role.

At the age of 29, I was considered a young vocational training manager by our apprentices, though that’s no longer the case today ;) Back then, we had 24 apprentices across two professions: IT and Business Administration.”

What do you see as the primary goals of an apprenticeship programme?

“The dual training programme has a long tradition and is unique worldwide. Two-thirds of young people opt for an apprenticeship after compulsory schooling.

“For a company like Sunrise, it's our duty to give young people a foothold in the world of work and telecommunications”

Young people are an asset to any team. They bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. It's crucial to listen to them and consider their input."

Could you walk us through the structure of your apprenticeship programme? What are the key components?

“We introduce apprentices to the company and working life, with variations depending on the profession. ICT apprentices start with a basic apprenticeship year, while others join their department or shop directly. All apprentices participate in our Welcome Days - three days each year dedicated to networking and exchanging ideas.

In general, we attach great importance to linking professions, apprenticeship years and regions. For young people, the connection to the same age group (peer group) is of great importance. Due to this, it's also heartwarming to see how apprentices have maintained lifelong friendships, even years after completing their apprenticeships. These groups are the key to our successful programme.”

What role do mentors play in the development of apprentices, and how do you ensure a productive mentorship relationship?

“Young people need role models. Motivated and committed mentors are essential, particularly for this age group, who need to be taken seriously and treated as equals. Our apprentices want to be involved in the work, team, and projects. If we don't include them, we waste important resources and their potential.”

In what ways do you foster a culture of learning and growth within the apprentice community?

“We aim to find the ideal team for each apprentice, allowing them to develop in their areas of interest. Rigid structures with rotation schedules and standard targets do not motivate young people. We consider their future aspirations and find suitable development paths. For particularly committed and talented learners, we have the ‘Rising Star’ talent programme, which offers even more individual challenges and support.”

What are some of the challenges you face in managing a team of apprentices, and how do you overcome them?

“People often say working with adolescents is challenging, but it's about understanding and giving them opportunities to grow. Respect and engagement are key. The real challenge is managing an apprentice programme in a dynamic environment like Sunrise.

We plan up to five years in advance, recruiting a year before the apprenticeship starts, and apprentices stay with us for three to four years. This long-term planning can sometime feel like looking into a crystal ball.

Additionally, we must adapt to reorganisations, outsourcing, insourcing, and economic fluctuations. Fortunately, my team, some of whom have been with us for many years, is very professional and ‘knows every trick in the book’.”

How do you measure the success and effectiveness of your apprenticeship programme?

“Uh, that's a hard one. It's difficult to measure, but we often get asked this. We have a high pass rate - only two out of around 260 apprentices have failed their final exams in the last five years. We have 108 employees who completed their apprenticeship at Sunrise or UPC.

“Since 2000, 800 young professionals have successfully completed their training”

The best example of this is the ‘Rising Talents’ success story campaign that we ran internally and externally in April and May. Anyone who reads the stories will see our success and what great employees have emerged from our Young Talents programme.”

Sunrise’s Young Talents Programme

Sunrise is shaping the future of the telecommunications industry one apprentice at a time. Learn more about how Sunrise is cultivating the next generation of professionals, and the opportunities offered by the Young Talents programme at:

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