HAMPSHIRE employer Zurich wants to retrain 3,000 of its UK staff to fill a looming gap in skills in robotics, data science and cyber security.

The insurance giant says 270 jobs in those fields could go unfilled by 2024 if employees are not re-skilled for the future.

It has spent £1million this year on retraining staff, setting up an Automation Academy and forming a 40-strong artificial intelligence (AI) team recruited from across the business.

Members of that team have received an average pay increase of 10 per cent in their first year.

Zurich – which has around 600 staff at Whiteley – says upskilling members of its own team could save the business £1m in recruitment and redundancy costs.

In Hampshire, it has partnered with the University of Winchester to help develop a three-year data science apprenticeship degree. Seven of its employees are among the first students on the course.

John Keppel, Zurich UK’s chief operating officer, said: “The skill set of our workforce is constantly changing. As an industry, we battle for top market talent to try and fill that gap.

“At Zurich, we don’t believe it has to be this way. Whilst we can’t ignore the benefits that automation brings, it’s important to retain, nurture and educate our teams.

“This is a clear opportunity, not a threat to our employees. It’s crucial that we factor the future skills requirements for the business into the process now. If we know what’s coming, we can start transitioning existing employees into new careers today.”

Alastair Robertson, head of continuous improvement and automation at Zurich Uk, said: “My team is a perfect example of how to nurture existing employees for the future.

“There are many preconceived ideas about implementing automated processes into a business and how it these roles must be carried out by tech specialists. In reality, the best people to do this effectively have worked within the function that you’re looking to automate as they really understand the process.”

In 2021, Zurich intends to create a teaching module called A New Mindset: Leading in a Digital Era, which will empower managers to educate their workforce about how digital upskilling can benefit their careers.