Graduate Apprentice's Journey from Afghanistan to Award Success



Graduate Apprentice

One of our Graduate Apprentices arrived in Scotland as a refugee and has gone on to win a prestigious Graduate of the Year Award.

Shams Rahimi arrived in Scotland alone from his home country of Afghanistan as a refugee, just before turning 18.

Having made the difficult decision to leave behind his family and friends to seek a better life in the UK, Shams was initially unable to find work. Undaunted, he enrolled on a college course and set about trying to find an opportunity on a construction site. Perseverance paid off when one day Shams managed to speak to a director at GRAHAM Construction. Despite having no real career history, he impressed the director with his enthusiasm, determination and attitude and was offered a job.

Shams went on to undertake a Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship with Heriot-Watt University while working with GRAHAM. During his degree Shams demonstrated a high level of performance and commitment for both his academic and work-based learning. And last year his exceptional achievements were recognised when he graduated with First Class Honours.

Since then, Shams’ career with GRAHAM has gone from strength to strength and he has even taken on mentoring responsibilities for other apprentices and young people at the company.

Laurent Galbrun, programme director for Heriot-Watt’s Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship, said: “Shams’ journey is a testimony to perseverance, dedication and humility. Shams arrived in Scotland from his home country of Afghanistan as a refugee and has gone on to achieve a First Class Honour Degree. Since graduating last year Shams has now taken on the role of work-based mentor for other graduate apprentices and is well on his way to a successful career.”

Shams’ accomplishments were acknowledged recently when he was nominated for Graduate of the Year at the Chartered Institute of Building (Scotland) Awards, which celebrates excellence in the construction industry. Shams was nominated alongside his GRAHAM colleague Jos Mackie – who is also a former Heriot-Watt Graduate Apprentice.

At the event held on 14 October in Glasgow, Shams’ success was recognised by his peers and he took home the prestigious award.

Gary Holmes, Managing Director for GRAHAM’s Building North region, said: “We are extremely proud of both Shams and Jos for their impressive achievements and continued hard work as construction professionals.

“Shams’ win at the recent CIOB Scotland Awards is a result of his excellent work ethic, eagerness to learn and consistently being a team player, and we look forward to helping him further his career at GRAHAM.”


David Aaron