Published on 11 February 2021
A University Apprenticeship is helping Anisa Rahim develop her digital communication skills ensuring staff at Newcastle Building Society stay connected with the community.
Anisa has been with the building society since her university placement year in 2018. Once she’d graduated in 2020, she stayed on with the Society, who have continued to support her education and career development. Anisa is now Content Co-ordinator Graduate, which means she supports internal communications, storytelling through video footage and the sharing information within the Society’s digital platforms.
To further develop her skills, Anisa, from Wallsend, has signed up for a Digital Community Manager Apprenticeship at the University of Sunderland, part-time for two years. The programme is aimed at anyone who currently works, or plans to work, in digital engagement or who is responsible for facilitating and instigating direct communication online between the end user or customer and the organisation.
Anisa says: “When I graduated in 2020 with a degree in Marketing Management at Northumbria University, rather than leave me in my role, my head of department sat down with me to talk about what I can do to further develop my career. For me, this meant starting the Digital Community Manager Apprenticeship; not only is it suited to the skills I wanted to cultivate but also the development of my role.”
This week the University of Sunderland is celebrating our apprentices, partners and staff, as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021.
Apprentices like Anisa are employees who spend most of their time in the workplace, supported by dedicated study time with the University. Learning while working, then applying that learning back into the workplace.
The University is currently working with more than 60 employers across the region, delivering successful higher and degree apprenticeship programmes.
Asked how her programme is structured to work around her day job, Anisa explained: “The programme sessions run every Friday and they are a day-long Teams call. They remind me of university seminars – albeit a remote version – as it is a mixture of group discussions, group activities, and independent tasks. I like that it doesn’t feel like I’m just getting talked at and that I can actively participate in the learning.”
She added: “I am enjoying the programme. One of my personal highlights is the new friends that I’ve made from it, we are all very close. It’s nice being able to message the group whenever I’m working and arrange study sessions.”
Anisa says she is already seeing the benefits of the programme. “As a visual learner the programme helps me bring to life and apply what I’ve been learning,” she said. “Already I’ve managed to apply some of what I’ve learned to my current role, and as I begin the second module, I know that I’ll be able to apply more over the coming weeks.”
Newcastle Building Society’s Head of Corporate Communications, Kathryn McLaughlin, said: “Supporting communities is at the heart of our Society’s purpose. Our community strategy is an important part of how we measure our impact and Anisa’s apprenticeship learning will contribute to this. We can see that the skills she is developing will help us to improve how we engage our online communities and continue to build our customer conversations, insight and understanding through our online customer forum.
“Anisa has a great attitude to learning, she is dedicated and committed. Her apprenticeship will open additional opportunities for her and for our Society.”
Anisa says she would recommend the programme to anyone wanting to do digital community management, adding: “It’s the only programme I’ve seen that is backed by a variety of employers. You also learn a wide variety of topics, such as communication, and there is an opportunity to apply your learning in a safe, practice environment during the work-based learning module.”
Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Director of Digital Education at the University of Sunderland, said: "I have to say that I am delighted with Anisa’s approach and attitude to the programme, to her learning and to her levels of engagement. She is an exemplary student and has really attuned to the ethos of the apprenticeship programme. I am very pleased that the material she is learning will already is already having an impact on her work at NBS."
The University of Sunderland launched its Degree Apprenticeship programme almost four years ago and has established a proven record among a range of clientele, seeing 672 apprentices beginning their programme, in a range of subject areas.
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “Providing high-quality apprenticeships is a vital part of our role as an anchor institution in the north-east of England. We are delighted to be working in partnership with so many different employers to provide them with the skilled people they need to thrive in the future.
“For the individuals involved, an apprenticeship is a terrific way to enhance their career prospects and job opportunities. If you are interested, do you contact us to find out more about these excellent qualifications.”
This is the 14th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a week-long celebration that takes place across England, showcasing the impact apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses and regional economies and how they all benefit from the impact of apprenticeships.
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we want the theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 to be a springboard to look ahead to how apprenticeships can future-proof workforces and boost careers.”