Three German students have been living and working in Sunderland for a month as part of an enterprising scheme with the city’s twin town, Essen.

Sunderland City Council has once again supported the extension of the annual Krupp Foundation’s Apprenticeship programme, which has run for many years with crane manufacturer Liebherr in Sunderland.

Essen student Hanna Dick has spent a month at Liebherr and Sunderland Software Centre-based companies International Management Answers and Bloom have hosted students Sara Ana Kalweit and Swaantje Schneider.

Sunderland and Essen, which were twinned in 1949 are both areas with a strong industrial heritage. The cities continue to work together on a wide range of topics, including opening opportunities for the digital and software sector through joint initiatives and cultural exchange.

Sunderland is particularly eager to learn from Essen’s experience in the creative industries sector, which helped it to win European Capital of Culture on behalf of its region in 2011.

The links between North East England and the Ruhr region as a whole also look set to open opportunities to share good practice in the field of culture, as Sunderland bids for UK City of Culture 2021.

Another key theme for cooperation is sustainable development, not least as Essen is currently the European Green Capital and is extending opportunities to Sunderland through this title.

A group of young people from Southwick Neighbourhood Youth Project is currently planning its next visit to Essen in July when they will take part in the German city’s International Youth Camp. The relationship between the two cities has always placed a large focus on youth projects, and this remains a priority for the partnership.

This year’s Krupp Foundation Apprenticeship students have spent four weeks working full-time in the city, and taking part in cultural and social activities with Liebherr, International Management Answers, Bloom staff and a host family.

The apprentices also took the time to visit the University of Sunderland where they received a guided visit and met with staff. Their stay was rounded off with a reception hosted by the Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Alan Emerson, for the three girls and their hosts.

Sunderland City Council Chief Executive, Irene Lucas, said: “The Krupp Foundation has supported the apprenticeship programme for many years and the City Council has been happy to work with Sunderland partners to find suitable placements in Sunderland for Essen students.

“Liebherr independently organises its own student placement each year through the company’s own connections with Essen, and this year the City Council invited Bloom and International Management Answers to take part too.

“This is a programme that benefits our companies as well as the students who participate, because it opens up opportunities for businesses to trade internationally, and gives them a taste of having an apprentice and an introduction to working with international students.”

Sara Ann Kalweit said: “Sunderland is a fantastic city with so much to see and do.  It was very easy to find our way around and the people are so friendly.  It has been great to work in a Sunderland-based company for four weeks and get to know how they do their business successfully.”

Swaantje Schneider added: “The four weeks have flown by, and we love it so much that we all wish that we could stay longer. It was great being part of a company in the city centre, and we really enjoyed being apprentices, and being made to feel like part of the teams.”

Rob Levene, Bloom managing director, said: “It has been a pleasure to have Swaantje working with Bloom and I’m pleased we took the opportunity to get involved in the programme.

“The four weeks have been good for all of us involved, and we’d love to take part in this scheme again.”

Liebherr Sunderland managing director, Ralph Saelzer, said: “We have organised our own Essen exchange for some time and it’s great to see other companies in the city benefitting from being involved with this really valuable scheme.

“We’ll be sad to see Hanna go and hope she has valued her time with us as much as we’ve valued having her.”

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246

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