University of Sunderland invests in staff to create leaders for the future

The University of Sunderland welcomes thousands of students each year. Many come straight from school or college, choosing higher education to help shape their future prospects.

For some people the opportunity to go to university may not be an option and they instead choose an alternative journey through employment, learning from job experiences and along the way enhancing their skills and knowledge.

Whatever path or reasoning behind our choices, we are living in times where education has never been more accessible. One option to access education is through apprenticeships which can incorporate a degree.

The University of Sunderland has been at the forefront of higher and degree apprenticeships, the second university to offer such opportunities.

The University has invested significantly in the development of a wide range of apprenticeships, providing accessible options for employers to upskill their workforce and for employees to access learning whilst being able to work and earn a salary. Apprenticeships offer a cost-effective solution for employers and they provide a great opportunity to develop existing staff or bring in new talent. Large organisations can use their government levy to cover all tuition fees and smaller organisations can get 95% government funding.

One example of someone who is benefiting from a degree apprenticeship route is Christopher Watkinson, who works at the University and is an MBA Senior Leader degree apprentice.

Chris, from South Shields, has worked at the University since 1998, starting his career within the Estates and Facilities team whilst on a level 3 electrical and mechanical apprenticeship. Chris later progressed within the team to Assistant Maintenance Manager, leading to his current role as Estates Maintenance Manager.

After completing a BA in Leadership and Management with the University in 2019, Chris told us, “I decided to do the MBA Senior Leader apprenticeship because I felt it was the next step in my natural progression. It relates to my current role, whilst also offering potential to benefit future roles. This option offered me flexibility to manage my studies around work, family and home.”

Apprenticeships include an element of ‘off the job’ learning, requiring a level of study commitment from both employer and apprentice. Chris adds, “I have a set day (Wednesday) every week to work on my university learning including assignments, research, and my portfolio. Sometimes work priorities require me to be flexible and move things around to manage both my studies and job. Some weeks I have work deadlines or ad hoc tasks that come up, but this flexibility helps me to organise my time.

The academic team are also really good at supporting apprentices with flexible learning through recorded lectures or a one to one meeting should we need to run through anything.“

The Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme explores leadership and leader identity and what that means to each individual in the context of their organisation. Chris adds, “I found this module really beneficial, as did others in my cohort. It helped me to reflect on, and understand, my own leadership style. As the course is work based, it’s giving me and opportunity to put what I learn into practice every day”.

The MBA Senior Leader apprenticeship includes five modules which help develop key knowledge, skills and the behaviours needed to be an outstanding leader.

  • Leadership and Leader Identity which explores personal values, motives and goals for enhancing strategic leadership capabilities in a fast changing and increasingly digital workplace.
  • Strategic Leadership and Entrepreneurship covers key themes associated with sustainable strategic leadership and management. The module develops the skills to critically explore strategic approaches and appraise contemporary perspectives which are key to high performance in an uncertain environment.
  • Developing Collaborative High Performing Cultures will explore aspects related to organisational development, performance and sustainability in a digital world.
  • Innovation and Change Management includes key themes associated with innovation and change management that encourage and support organisations to perform successfully in dynamic and digital environments to ensure sustainability.
  • Strategic Business Research Project involves a substantial strategic business research project that brings together elements of the learning from across the programme.

The University has three enrolment opportunities each year. Their next start date is 5 May!

Interested in the University of Sunderland MBA Senior Leader apprenticeship? Email

To find out more about the MBA Senior Leader Apprenticeship at the University of Sunderland click here

Credit: Bdaily


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