December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Insurance broker Willis has given Ipswich a double vote of confidence by extending a recruitment drive and investing £10million in its offices.
Eleven school-leavers have just joined the group’s Ipswich operation after completing their A-levels, bringing the number of young people recruited by the firm in the town to more than 50 over the past two years.
It is part of an expansion which has seen the group’s workforce in Ipswich grow by more than 200 in all since 2011 to just over 1,350.
Now, with expansion expected to continue at a similar rate for at least the next two years, the group has committed £10m to an office refurbishment project which will allow it to accommodate further growth.
Its Greyfriars offices across the road from the main building have already been brought back into use, having been “mothballed” for five years, creating space for nearly 400 workers.
And work is now due to start on what will be the biggest refurbishment of the group’s iconic Grade I-listed main building, designed by Norman Foster, since it was built in the 1970s.
The move which will increase its capacity from just 1,350 employees to nearly 1,500.
Mark Parker, head of Willis’s Global Service Centres, which include the Ipswich operation, says the increase in numbers is down to a combination of organic growth within the Willis group business and a policy of relocating some jobs to Ipswich when vacancies arise at the group’s London offices.
Mr Parker, who was born in Ipswich and educated in Felixstowe, says he shares many of the concerns expressed by other employers over the work-readiness of school-leavers, but believes the solution lies in taking positive approach.
“I think the young people we have found in the last couple of years have been fantastic,” he said, adding that senior managers at Willis are also impressed with the results so far, with one local recruit having already relocated to London and another to the group’s New York office.
Mr Parker added: “We are not building capacity to 1,900 desks to leave them empty.”