THE University of Sunderland has launched a new scheme designed to boost the career opportunities of thousands of workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of a pre-emptive move to ease the pressures of Covid-19 on the region’s workforce, the university created the Skills Boost North East initiative which launched last week.

The scheme aims to retrain, reskill, and refocus workers who have been furloughed, made redundant, or are in danger of losing their jobs, due to the pandemic.

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Leaders hope by developing high-level skills in the workforce, the scheme will support businesses as they seek to adapt, diversify and thrive in the post-Covid economy.

Fees have been reduced on specified postgraduate programmes, so those whose career has been affected by the pandemic can use this time to develop and maximise their future opportunities.

Francesca Carey, director of home student recruitment, said: “The University has a long tradition of partnering with industry in the North-East.

“We take our role as a civic institution seriously, and want to go as far as we can to support local people and businesses within the region at a challenging time.

“We know that all employers are facing difficult staffing decisions; our new scheme, Skills Boost North East, seeks to support workers to meet the demands and challenges of what could be a very different emerging employment market.”

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The university also helped healthcare services across the region during the pandemic, with student nurses recruited to the frontline, and donated thousands of pounds’ worth of specialist equipment.

Now, it aims to help support the stability of the region, by offering affordable and relevant opportunities for local employees to upskill, at a time when the employment market might not offer a viable alternative.

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Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, said: “The end of the furlough scheme will be a real crunch point and many organisations may need to downsize and change their focus to survive in the future.

“Individuals will need to develop new skills to adapt to this, so universities and colleges have an important part to play in re-skilling the workforce and giving students the future they deserve.

“In light of the economic challenges we have developed the Skills Boost scheme to suit the needs of those in the region who have recently been furloughed or now find themselves out of – or at risk of being out of - work.

“Many of our postgraduate programmes are also eligible for financial support from the government-backed postgraduate loans scheme. In many cases, this support would cover tuition fees, whilst also allowing a contribution to living expenses; it is likely that people can study and work to rebuild their career with supplementary income too, for example whilst working part-time.

“At the end of the programme, students will have gained new knowledge and skills and placed themselves in a better position for their career prospects going forward.”

For details call 0191-5153000 or email