A GROUND-breaking graduate employment programme, which has trained almost 100 people since it started, has again been accredited for its outstanding success in building careers in housing.

The Graduate Employment Mentoring (GEM) programme is a 12-month learning scheme, which includes paid traineeships, and has been developed by The Centre for Partnership - part of social housing group Incommunities.

Since 2009 it has grown from being a West Yorkshire-based programme to a national one involving more than 30 housing associations.

In addition it expanded in 2013 to offer a Junior GEM programme to sixth-form students from Bradford, combining classroom-based learning and work shadowing.

It has now been re-accredited at the latest Responsible Business Awards, which are run by Business in the Community. Every year a number of companies who are able to demonstrate the continual positive impact of their programme are recognised in this way.

The GEM programme has been accredited in the Inspiring Young Talent award category and follows its recognition in 2014.

Since then, the Centre for Partnership has signed a formal agreement with the Chartered Institute of Housing to further develop the programme which will give students the opportunity to achieve chartered status qualifications. A second Junior GEM programme is also under way.

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group chief executive said: “We are delighted to have secured re-accreditation through Business in the Community.

“This award reflects the fantastic success of the programme in providing rewarding career opportunities for graduates and local sixth form students. Over the past six years nearly 100 graduates have been trained with 94 per cent securing jobs.

“Our recent partnership with the CIH opens up exciting possibilities to further expand the programme including developing its international presence.”

Trevor Smith, director of the Centre for Partnership, said: “The GEM programme has a proven track record in creating a pipeline of talented young people who are keen to build careers in housing.

“This national recognition from Business in the Community is a terrific endorsement of our programme and the unique opportunity it gives young people to attain an ‘escalator’ qualification and ultimately a ‘debt free’ business focused degree.”

“Working with the CIH, our ambition is to see many more talented graduates and students turn into ‘GEMs’.”

Stephen Howard, chief executive, Business in the Community said “The Responsible Business Awards celebrate the very best of business and raise awareness of business as a powerful force for good.

“We congratulate Incommunities and The Centre for Partnership for playing their part in creating a fairer society and more sustainable future and demonstrating that business has a greater purpose than simply generating profit.”

The latest Junior GEM recruits are Samuel Whiteley, Shalal Mir, Fakhra Khurshid, Sarfraz Khan, Georgia Barron, Pritvir Bansal and Lewis Hunt, of Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College; and Harrison Kerrigan, Hina Ismail, Brittany Cuders, Holly Claughton, and Anjona Baidya, of Tong High School.