A Bradford-based employment programme, aimed at helping graduates build careers in housing, is developing a national and international presence.

The Graduate Employment Mentoring (GEM) programme was launched in 2009 by the Centre for Partnership, part of Bradford housing group Incommunities.

Over that time it has helped 52 graduates across the country onto the career ladder – the majority in the housing sector.

The programme is scoring top marks, with 85 per cent of its graduates securing employment. The search is now on to recruit graduates to the autumn 2013 programme.

Yorkshire organisations providing placements include Incommunities, Leeds Federated Housing Association and Yorkshire Coast Homes. They join housing partners from the South East, North East, North West and East Anglia.

Eighteen students are taking part in the current programme which runs until November. A mark of their success is that already nearly 75 per cent of the students have been retained by their placement partners.

The programme delivers training in management and leadership to help each graduate become employment-ready for a career in social housing. This training involves a 12-month work placement. The GEM students study at residential academies based at the University of Bradford’s School of Management, and each participant is given the opportunity to gain a professional qualification accredited by the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Incommunities and the Centre for Partnership are now working on a new project in partnership with Tong High School. They will be piloting a ‘junior’ GEM programme for A- level students which would provide an alternative career path to going to university.

The GEM programme is also making international connections with housing organisations in Australia, Canada, Holland and the USA.

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities group chief executive, said: “These are challenging times for job seekers and this unique programme provides a ‘career ready’ path, in many cases into the housing sector. It is also exciting to see that our GEM graduates are now getting involved in the international housing sector.

“It is part of our package of employment schemes we are delivering which also includes our Open Field service and apprenticeship programme to help people into work. It is another example of how we are ‘Improving lives Incommunities’ and showing our support for the Telegraph & Argus Foundations for Jobs campaign.”

Trevor Smith, director of the Centre for Partnership, said: “The GEM programme is tough, demanding and rewarding. Of the last cohort of graduates, 100 per cent went on to secure jobs with their placement providers which is a measure of both its growing reputation and the calibre of students selected.

For details on the GEM programme visit centreforpartnership.co.uk or contact Amanda Livermore on (01274) 254701.