Housing minister praises Keighley projects

Keighley News: Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, Incommunities’ Geraldine Howley and Trevor Smith, of The Centre for Partnership, with some of the GEM students and Junior GEMs Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, Incommunities’ Geraldine Howley and Trevor Smith, of The Centre for Partnership, with some of the GEM students and Junior GEMs

A pioneering programme that helps graduates into careers has won high praise from Keighley MP Kris Hopkins.

Since the launch of the Graduate Employment Mentoring (GEM) scheme, more than 70 people have been assisted into work.

And a new junior version of the initiative is now working with school sixth-formers.

Behind the venture is The Centre for Partnership, part of Keighley’s biggest social housing group, Incommunities.

Mr Hopkins met some of the latest recruits to the programme, which began in 2009 as a career builder for unemployed graduates looking to move into the housing sector.

And the newly-appointed housing minister heard about its success from Incommunities group chief executive, Geraldine Howley, and Centre for Partnership director, Trevor Smith.

“The programme is proving an invaluable route into rewarding careers through a package of high-quality training and learning experiences,” said Mr Hopkins.

“Incommunities and The Centre for Partnership deserve great credit for building this innovative scheme.

“The launch of Junior GEM is a really exciting development, which is now bringing the benefits of the programme to a group of local school students.”

In four years, GEM has grown from being a West Yorkshire-based programme to a national one, with more than 30 housing associations now providing traineeships and many universities ‘signposting’ students to it.

And connections are being made with housing organisations in Australia, Canada, Holland and the USA.

Mrs Howley said: “We are really excited about the growth of the GEM programme, and it was great to give the housing minister a first-hand insight into its success.

“GEM is part of a package of employment schemes Incomm-unities is involved in to help people realise their career and employment aspirations.

“In a short time, it has developed into a high quality programme designed to equip each participant to become leaders of the future.”

Mr Smith said: “It was good to share with the housing minister how we are expanding the GEM model – this includes developing Junior GEM, which offers young students the opportunity to attain a professional qualification and ultimately achieve a ‘debt-free’ business-focused degree.”

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