GEM of a programme lands top award

It’s been an unforgettable start to October for Incommunities’ graduate training scheme winning a top national training award and launching a new training cohort.

The Graduate Employment Mentoring (GEM) Programme is a 12 month learning programme run by the housing group’s Centre for Partnership. It includes paid work experience traineeships involving over 20 Housing Associations and Councils in England and Scotland.

The GEM Programme is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) with students studying for a Level 4 qualification for the Housing Profession.

The programme design is focused on nurturing and developing housings’ future leaders to play their part in ensuring the sustainability of the sector.

Its growing success – which includes a 94% success rate in getting graduates into work – was recognised last week when the programme won the Best Training Scheme prize at the 2015 24housing awards.

Incommunities’ Centre for Partnership was among seven training organisations shortlisted in the award category.

Coinciding with the award success, the team has launched its eighth programme (or cohort) with 20 young people set to take their first steps in building rewarding careers in housing.

Each recruit will receive high quality leadership training alongside paid internships provided by 11 different organisations – Incommunities, Yorkshire Coast Homes (Scarborough), Walsall Housing Group, Newlon Housing Trust (London), Regenda Group (Bolton), Wulvern Housing (Crewe), Contour Homes (Manchester), Orbit Group (West Midlands), The Wheatley Group (Glasgow) and two councils, Oldham and Kirklees.

The Wheatley Group are the first Scottish housing association to join the GEM programme and represents an important step in expanding the project, supported by the CIH, right across the UK.

The GEM Programme has been successful in helping organisations to address their diversity agendas with over half of the latest GEM recruits being female and almost 40% coming from BME backgrounds.

The Centre for Partnership is also running a third Junior GEM programme for sixth form students from two Bradford schools – Tong High School and Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College.

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group Chief Executive, said: “Winning the 24housing award is a fabulous achievement and fitting recognition for the commitment of our GEM students, tutors and partners, including the CIH, who continue to invest so much in the programme.

“The award also reflects a fantastic journey for the GEM Programme – from its launch in 2009 as a West Yorkshire-based project to become a UK-wide venture.

“Our latest recruits are not only joining an award winning programme but one that is developing a strong track record in investing in young housing talent.”

Trevor Smith, Director of the Centre for Partnership, said: “Winning this prestigious award provides a wonderful platform from which to expand the programme further and develop our career offer for young people.”

“With the support of the CIH, we are striving to build our links with partners across the UK as well as at an international level.”

To find out more about the GEM Programme contact The Centre for Partnership Team on 254701, email or click

Pic attached: Receiving the Best Training Scheme award are (from left) Trevor Smith, Director of the Centre for Partnership and Thomas Sutton, Caroline Chapman and Natasha Jarratt, all from Incommunities. They are pictured with Mark Gelder of Willmott Dixon (category award sponsor) and event host and comedian, Ellie Taylor.

Written on 16th October 2015Lillie Geistdorfer. Published in Members News