University of Sunderland BA(Hons) Accounting & Finance Graduate Shuaib Ahmed – Assistant Accountant for Certax Accounting (Sunderland) Ltd with Director Michael Hendy.
University of Sunderland

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Graduates Benefit from The University of Sunderland’s Internship Scheme

First launched in 2011, the University of Sunderland received European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) to run its Graduate Internship Scheme, connecting graduate talent with regional, Small to Medium Enterprises.

It has since provided over 650 graduates the opportunity to work in a variety of small-to-medium private sector organisations across the north-east and delivered nearly £2.4 million in funding to those businesses.

The funding is due to come to an end in 2023, and any employers who want to join the businesses who have already benefitted from the programme, must get their applications in ASAP to apply for funding.

By this summer, the current Internship scheme will have placed more than 200 graduates into full-time roles within growing SMEs, earning an average salary of £20k. After 12 months, employers can decide whether to extend the Intern’s contract. Most graduates have now been offered full-time employment on completion of their internship.

Project Manager Laura Foster said:

“We have been delighted to see SME uptake in the scheme really ramp up in 2022. Providing interesting, graduate-level roles, with the opportunity for progression plays a key part in retaining graduate talent in the region. SMEs place a huge role in our regional economy and the salary subsidy, available through the ERDF funding, supports companies to provide such opportunities for graduates. As the current scheme comes to an end, we are looking forward to matching our emerging Class of 2022 with the exciting roles on offer.”

Graduates on the scheme report that the reality of working in a smaller company means they have an exciting, challenging, and wide breadth of experience which a much larger, corporate organisation may not provide.

One of the SMEs accessing talent via the scheme is Sunderland based Certax Accounting Ltd. They recently recruited University of Sunderland, BA(Hons) Accounting & Finance Graduate Shuaib Ahmed.

Certax Director Michael Hendy said, “Shuaib has brought energy, vigour and a positive mindset that has enhanced our capabilities. This has already provided good challenge to our processes, along with positive suggestions for improvement.”

Shuaib told us of his internship experience so far, “Mike has played a massive part in how much I enjoy the job - he is understanding and flexible. He has made me feel at ease in the job. I had experience of working in a call centre for a large company – Barclays Bank. Coming to a smaller company in an office environment feels so much better. I feel like I do more to make a difference in this role. Being part of a smaller team is something I enjoy.”

When asked what advice he would give to graduates considering an internship, Shuaib said “have patience and back yourself and your abilities. Don’t sell yourself to a job that isn’t relative to your degree for extra income. The income will come. Also, after finishing university, don’t stop developing and striving to learn. In finance, it can become too easy to fall behind with changes, so always keep learning.”

The scheme delivers European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and supports SMEs with the cost of employing a graduate, providing £4500 in subsidy payments. After 12 months, employers can decide whether to extend the Intern’s contract.

We encourage SMEs to get in touch as soon as possible, as opportunities are limited with all placements via the scheme being made by Summer 2022. The Graduate Internship Team will ensure you are supported through the complete process from initial enquiry, all the way through to the end of the Internship. Graduates from the previous 5 years, as well as the upcoming class of 2022, are encouraged to explore the roles currently on offer and talk to the team about applying for an internship.

For initial enquires you can contact Donna Bainbridge, Internship Development Co-Ordinator on 07976 199512 or email: Donna.Bainbridge@sunderland.ac.uk.

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We are currently able to support SMEs that are registered (and operating or trading) in the following areas:

  • Sunderland
  • Newcastle
  • Gateshead
  • South Tyneside
  • North Tyneside
  • Northumberland

The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £3,32,6399 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Northern Powerhouse

The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK. Alongside over €1.5 billion of European Regional Development Fund support for businesses and communities across the North, the government has awarded £3.4 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.


This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by University of Sunderland .

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