Construction firm GRAHAM has welcomed the ‘next generation of talent’ from its Graduate Apprenticeship Programme, which gives company employees the opportunity to gain higher education via the workplace.
Under the programme, delivered as part of the GRAHAM Academy Scotland, four employees have completed their studies at Heriot Watt University – the top university in Scotland for construction and civil engineering*.
The graduates are Thomas McGoran from Cardonald, Karen Jeffrey from Bishopbriggs, Jos Mackie from Lenzie and Shams Rahimi from Maryhill – all have completed degrees in Construction Built Environment and Civil Engineering.
Hosted and funded by Skills Development Scotland, the programme provides a new route into degree level education for those currently employed, or those who want to go straight into the workplace.
The courses have been designed around the needs of the construction industry to ensure employees are learning skills that contribute to business needs.
The new graduates will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from their degree courses on some of GRAHAM’s most high-profile projects, such as Central Quay and Buchanan Wharf, Glasgow.
Karen Jeffrey (25), who has been working on site at Buchanan Wharf, said: “I’ve always had an interest in construction, particularly buildings and how they are constructed and maintained. When I left school, I originally pursued a degree in building surveying, but I desperately wanted to develop my practical experience.
“I applied for an apprenticeship with GRAHAM and started their programme to gain a technical apprenticeship at HNC level. From there, GRAHAM has been fantastic at continuing to develop my skillset and further my potential by putting me forward for the Graduate Apprenticeship.
“When the pandemic struck, our mentors at Heriot Watt University and the team at GRAHAM were supportive throughout and ensured we all stayed on track, achieved our outcomes and produced the appropriate evidence.
“The course has provided me with a great blend of theory and on-the-job experience on the Buchanan Wharf projects – expertise which I’m excited to take forward into the next chapter of my career.”
Debbie Rutherford, Social Impact Manager at GRAHAM, believes nurturing talent has been key to GRAHAM’s strong growth, adding: “We are thrilled to welcome the next generation of talent and to equip them with the tools to grow and become future leaders at GRAHAM.
“Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, our graduates have overcome the enormous challenges presented to them over the past year. Coupled with support from the university, we are exceptionally proud of our graduates and look forward to seeing them further their professional careers and futures with GRAHAM.
“As one of the first companies in the UK to be accredited Platinum status by Investors in People, we believe that nurturing and investing in the next generation of talent is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of GRAHAM.”
Graeme Bowles, Programme Director for Heriot-Watt’s Construction and the Built Environment Graduate Apprenticeship programme, said: “I’m delighted to have reached this important milestone with the graduation of our first cohort of apprentices with GRAHAM. They leave us with an accredited Honours degree and continue their career development with the knowledge and skills that the apprenticeship has developed. I’ve enjoyed working with our apprentices and overseeing their growth and development as construction professionals. They will be very valued by their employers and I’m sure they’ll make a huge contribution.”
The Graduate Programme is part of the GRAHAM Academy, which is an in-house training and development initiative which offers a range of graduate programmes, industrial and undergraduate placements, part-time university study, apprenticeships, work experience, and trainee opportunities.
Since 2015, the GRAHAM Academy has seen more than 215 graduates successfully through its programme, with 11 new technical apprentices joining GRAHAM in the last year.
A member of the “5% Club”, a group of companies committed to ensuring 5% of their workforce over the next five years is comprised of young people on structured learning schemes, GRAHAM is already ahead of the curve, with 13% of its workforce fitting the criteria.
GRAHAM is also a member of the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme, an industry-wide initiative that aims to make workplaces better for everyone.
* https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings/building?tabletype=full-table – the top-ranked University in Scotland for Construction and Civil Engineering (source: The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021).