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GRAHAM’s pioneering CRE8 programme delivers opportunities for emerging talent in Leeds

The CRE8 pre-employment programme is a pioneering initiative and the first model of its kind within construction to include a wraparound service. Originally launched in November 2022 in collaboration with Nottingham City Council, the programme was piloted to combat local unemployment and underemployment, and subsequently attract emerging talent and decrease future industry skills gaps.

Our programme model provides delegate cohorts with industry-based skills and training, work-based experiences and post placement support into sustained local employment. The latter element differs from previous industry models and has been the pivotal key to success of both our programme delivery, partnerships and individuals’ career pathways into construction.

This is our eighth programme and our second programme to target specific underrepresented groups through positive recruitment drives. In this instance, we have focused our campaign on attracting local emerging talent who are, or have been, associated with the Armed Forces. Our interior-fit out division will be hosting delegate placements at our Trevelyan Square Project at Leeds Trinity University, procured through the Procure Partnerships Framework.

As we evolve and expand our programme to wider communities across our regions and divisions, it has been essential to introduce new collaborative partners to CRE8 to ensure its continued successes through relevance and local needs. We have expanded our CRE8 delivery partnerships to include Building Heroes who have been essential in pairing suitable delegates with programme opportunities and Forces Employment charity who will collaborate with our long-standing programme partner Building Careers UK to support our delegates beyond programme completion into their career pathways.

To celebrate the programme, there was a buffet networking event on site at the GRAHAM Trevelyan Square Project at Leeds Trinity University. We were joined by our CRE8 partners; Faye Dolan, Procure Partnerships Framework; and Hollie Cregan, GRAHAM Head of Equality, Diversity and FIR. The event included a welcome and overview of the CRE8 programme, followed by lunch and an official tour of the project.



Jack Neath, Social Value Advisor at Procure Partnerships Framework, said:

“The CRE8 programme is a fantastic initiative that we are proud to be part of. This programme’s success in bridging local employment gaps and fostering sustainable career pathways is a testament to the power of collaborative partnerships. By specifically supporting veterans and service leaders, CRE8 not only addresses the unique challenges faced by those who have served but also taps into a valuable pool of talent, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and support needed to thrive in their new careers.”


Nicola Schneider, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Building Heroes, commented:

“Building Heroes is delighted to support a programme which provides learners and graduates the opportunity to enter into the construction industry. Having completed our programme and earned a Level 1 City & Guilds in Basic Construction Skills and a CSCS card, the delegates can now apply their skills and experience in a civilian context. The CRE8 programme model, which integrates work-based experiences with post-placement support, aligns well with our mission to help service leavers, veterans and military family members build successful second careers. We look forward to continued collaboration to further impact our Armed Forces community and help bridge the transition from military to civilian life.”


James Shannon, GRAHAM Interior Fit-Out Project Manager, said:

“This is my first involvement with the CRE8 programme. I feel proud as an ex-serviceman that GRAHAM offer this amazing opportunity for services personnel. Ex-service personnel have great talent and working ethos, they can only bring added value to the construction industry.”