A GRADUATE apprentice from Heriot-Watt University has put behind him a life of conflict and chaos in Afghanistan to be named Scottish Apprentice of the Year.

Shams Rahimi, 26, is currently studying for an honours degree in civil engineering thanks to the university’s Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme, which is supported by his employers Graham.

But the student’s back story shows the struggle and determination that has driven his journey.

Rahimi moved to the UK in 2011 when he fled from his home town Keshem, in the war-torn north-east province of Badakhshan.

The bloodshed and turmoil had become too much for the 17-year-old, so he made the difficult decision to leave his family and friends to seek a better life in the UK.

Sham arrived in England as a refugee, but after receiving his Right to Remain from the Home Office, was transferred to the Gorbals in Glasgow.

Determined to get a job, he walked from his accommodation to a Graham construction site in the city centre and waited outside until there was a manager on site to ask for an interview.

Despite having no job history, he impressed interviewers with his enthusiasm to learn.

Now Rahimi, who is studying at the university’s campus in Edinburgh, has been recognised as Scottish Region Apprentice of the Year at the CITB awards in London.

Speaking about fleeing one of the most dangerous parts of the world, Rahimi said: “When I left Afghanistan, it was a country on its knees. My town used to be safest part of the country, but then it suddenly changed into chaos.

“Afghanistan takes opportunities away from people so I made the decision that I had to get out. I had to leave the chaos and seek asylum even if that meant leaving my family behind.”

When Rahimi arrived in Glasgow, he came across construction company Graham by chance after watching a documentary.

Shams added: “The construction company gave me a chance and Heriot-Watt has given me a chance, and for that I’m very grateful.

“I’m also delighted to pick up the CITB Apprenticeship Award and my story proves you can do anything – if you put your mind to it.”