Graham builds path to university degree for staff

Karen Jeffrey, trainee joiner (left) with Eimear McLaughlin, a summer placement student

A new Graduate Apprenticeship scheme that gives company employees the opportunity to gain higher education through the workplace has been supported by Graham.

Delivered as part of the Graham Academy Scotland, nine current and new employees of the construction company have joined the programme this year.

The undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Quantity Surveying will be completed at Heriot Watt University and Glasgow Caledonian University, with each of the Graham staff due to start in September.

The scheme is hosted and funded by Skills Development Scotland in a bid to provide a new route into degree level education for those currently employed or those who want to go straight into work.

Each of the courses delivered through the scheme have been designed around the needs of the construction industry to ensure employees are learning skills that contribute to the business needs.

One of the Graham employees set to start his undergraduate course in Civil Engineering in September has also been nominated for Modern Apprentice of the Year Award.

Shams Rahimi moved to the UK from Afghanistan by himself in 2011 at the age of 17.

After watching a documentary on the construction industry, he walked from his accommodation in the Gorbals to a Graham site in the city centre and waited until there was a manager on site to ask for an interview.

Now, after three years at Graham and studying Civil Engineering part time at Glasgow Kelvin College, Shams will move on to start an undergraduate degree at Heriot Watt University.

The Graham Academy has seen nearly 100 people successfully complete courses of various levels over the last three years, giving young people the chance to gain experience and qualifications within the construction industry through apprenticeships, industry and graduate placements.

Debbie Rutherford, community benefits advisor at Graham, said: “Shams is one of many success stories that have come out of the Graham Academy and it’s great to see him move onto the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme to take his education that step further.

“The scheme is an excellent way for our employees, current and future, to get industry experience on one of our sites, while gaining education that will progress their career.”

Dr Graeme Bowles, programme director for GA Construction and Built Environment at Herriot Watt University, said: “Heriot-Watt University is delighted to be working with Graham and the Graham Academy to provide learning and skills development to Graham staff.

“Graduate Apprenticeships are a new way of doing a university degree based on work-based learning, so that activities in the workplace count towards the degree. A Graduate Apprenticeship provides a clear pathway to becoming a qualified construction professional in the future.

“We look forward to working with the Graham apprentices over the coming years.”

Graham is a member of the ‘5% Club’, an organisation consisting of companies committed to ensuring 5% of their workforce over the next five years is comprised of young people on structured learning schemes.

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