DHA's Graduate Programme - Update

As our in-house graduate scheme wraps up its second session, DHA's Emma Hawkes gives an overview of the programme's benefits and how the company supports its graduates in this new post-pandemic era of working

Graduates have a really important and central role to play in the social and economic recovery of the country, and that potential must be given the opportunity to succeed!

In 2021, graduates making their first tentative steps into the world of work face massive challenges. The global pandemic has altered the world of work dramatically and many companies now have staff working away from the office at home or increasingly an omni working arrangement. However, what has not changed is the central role which graduates have to play in every company and in turn a wider role of helping the social and economic recovery of the country. Supporting graduates to fulfil this potential is key for any business going forward.

Here at DHA we have seen significant growth in the number of graduates which we take on each year. In 2021 we have taken on 8 graduates in total and 1 apprentice over a 9 month period.

Supporting our graduates is really important now more than ever. For two of our new graduates, due to lockdown, they only managed one full day (their first day) in the office, before lockdown meant a move to home working. Getting graduates back into the office and interacting with other members of staff has been important, as with remote or home working it is very difficult to share    experiences with colleagues, hear conversations, contribute to discussions and share ideas.

To support our graduate team we have set up monthly meetings where the graduates can share experiences of projects and have the opportunity to discuss tips and ideas.

The meetings are also an opportunity to present to their peers on an issue of interest to them and to pose questions.

We have also expanded the ‘buddy’ role into a mentor role. Each new graduate is assigned a mentor who is a member of their team and who can provide support on a day-to-day basis. The mentor role is extremely important to help build the confidence of the new graduate and to ensure that from day one they are supported and valued within the team. It is also an opportunity for the mentor themselves to gain further experience within the company.

Graduates at DHA have always been offered the opportunity to undertake a master’s degree qualification/accredited course in town planning, transport and urban design, depending on their role within the company.

However, it is recognised by DHA that there is a role for an inhouse tailor-made graduate programme to assist our graduates with their role within the company. Working towards a professional accreditation is of course important, but in a multi-disciplinary firm where quality lies at the heart of the business, there is also a role for a learning support programme for all of the graduates, regardless of discipline specialism.

Therefore, this September all of our graduates started DHA’s a tailor-made graduate programme covering a range of subject material including planning theory, but also practical skills/work-based skills which are directly relevant to their role at DHA.

Participants’ modules will be completed with the course running for 18 months and central to every module will be the sharing of ideas, contributing to round table discussions, and reporting back to the rest of DHA on the issues raised. At the end of the course the participants will present individually to the Managing Director and the Chairman on a topic of their choice from the course.

Working life is now very different for all of us. However, supporting each other, nurturing talent, and giving everyone the potential to succeed and to contribute to the development a successful team remains the same. Now more than ever we need to recognise this.

For more information call 01622 776226 or email:

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