Sunderland delivers first ever virtual work placement with twin city Essen
August 20, 2021
As part of the city's international work and its twinning partnership with Essen in Germany, Sunderland City Council is delivering its first ever virtual placement.
Sunderland has been twinned with Essen - the sixth largest city in Germany - since 1949, making it the longest-standing partnership that either city is involved in.
The link was developed as part of an initiative to promote peace and stability and to break down cultural barriers in the post-war period. Since that time, countless friendships have been developed, projects delivered, and exchanges undertaken - and the partnership remains very active to this day.
Although the cities were initially matched due to shared heavy industrial activity, they have both diversified their economies and undergone significant transformation in recent years.
Melanie Thüs - who works as an employer consultant at the Essen Job Centre - was virtually welcomed by the human resources department at Sunderland City Council last week.
During the three-week long placement, Melanie is working alongside the HR team to review and draft policies on the right to work, supporting trans, non-binary and transitioning employees, and menopause.
Melanie said: "I've been working for the council in Essen for nearly six years in the job centre. I started out as a job advisor for academics, and I am now working as an employer consultant in the 'office partnership for labour market development'. I've also been studying a master's in business administration for new public management and my study of specialisation is HR, so it's a great opportunity to get an insight into how HR works.
"I'm really enjoying the placement, and it's nice to use the English language again, as I graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and Communication Studies."
During the placement, Melanie has also been tasked with carrying out research on promoting apprenticeships to young people, and how networking can connect apprentices in the area. Her work has been invaluable to Sunderland and is helping the Council increase the attractiveness of the apprenticeships offered.
Melanie added: "I would definitely recommend a virtual placement to my colleagues, but I hope I can come to visit Sunderland next year and get to know Sunderland City Council colleagues in-person.
"I think it underlines the continued British-German friendship, that I have been given the opportunity to do this internship and that colleagues have made it possible for me to do this. I'm very thankful for it."
Essen's Advisor to the Lord Mayor for International Affairs said: "We would like to thank our colleagues from Sunderland City Council and look forward to future exchanges, hopefully in-person again before too long."
Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We're thrilled to have Melanie join us virtually, and we're keen to continue developing remote opportunities as travel restrictions are ongoing. This is one of many activities we have delivered online during the last year and a half and we are pleased to be able to continue some of our joint work, even during these challenging times.
"Sunderland is proud of its partnership with Essen, and we look forward to continuing to raise awareness of the benefits of a diverse workforce, sharing best practice and experience, as well as strengthening international opportunities in educational and cultural activities."
Find out more about Sunderland's International Strategy and International Partnerships here: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12933/International-Strategy-and-International-Partnerships