A group of youngsters are celebrating being the first graduates from an in-demand apprenticeship programme offering diverse career opportunities with national optical retailer Vision Express.
The 13-month employee-embedded scheme accepted its first recruits in February 2014, with Vision Express deluged by over 3,000 applications to date.
The 13 apprentice graduates - who faced competition from 40 applicants per place – were recognised in an official graduation ceremony at the Vision Express Nottingham HQ.
They have each taken up a full time, permanent post as an Optical Assistant within Vision Express, qualifying with a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health (Optical Retail), which is equivalent to five GCSEs.
The graduation took place as Vision Express is recognised for its apprenticeship scheme in a commemorative book marking 750 years of Parliament, being launched at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 2015. Published by the History of Parliament and St James’s House Media, ‘The Story of Parliament: Celebrating 750 years of parliament in Britain’ also acknowledges 2015 as the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.
The celebratory publication highlights achievements and progress across the social, cultural, political, technological and commercial spheres, profiling Vision Express as a company supporting apprenticeships in Britain. “It’s been very exciting to work with the History of Parliament and our profiled companies such as Vision Express,” says Richard Freed, Director at St James’s House Media. “Vision Express has achieved a great deal in the area of apprenticeships, and we were very pleased to include their story in this publication.”
Kate Clayton, Vision Express Human Resources Director who joined the organisation as an apprentice herself, was interviewed for the commemorative book. She commented: “It’s fantastic for Vision Express to be in the national spotlight for supporting the future of Britain’s young workforce through our apprenticeship scheme. Apprenticeships are very close to my heart, given I was in the same shoes as our new recruits some years ago.
“We had an average of 40 applicants per position, which is a measure of just how much demand exists for a structured apprenticeship with a growing company that can offer unique and diverse career potential. We’ve received such positive feedback from our first graduates so we’re thrilled we can retain their skills within the company, and we’re committed to continuing our investment in this programme.”
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson added: “Vision Express is fundamentally a people business. Our employees are passionate about what we do, so it’s fantastic to bring in young talent who are keen to share our journey. Retail is an honest vocation, tough at times, but it rewards those who work hard. Our first graduate apprentices are testament to that. They have set the bar high because they’ve demonstrated enthusiasm and a great attitude – that’s all we ask of them - our in-house training provides the rest. We’re so proud of our apprentice graduates and wish them well in their future careers with Vision Express.”
The apprenticeship scheme is just one way Vision Express is helping tackle the issue of youth unemployment in the UK. Last year it joined The 5% Club, pledging to have 5% of its UK workforce comprising young people on structured training schemes over the next five years.
A total of 79 apprentices have been placed at Vision Express since the scheme launched. Managed and delivered by in-house optical experts, it gives candidates the opportunity to earn while they learn, with assessor support and hands-on experience.
The next apprenticeship intake starts in August, with applications now open. To qualify candidates must be at least 16 years old and not in full or part time education with a great attitude and aptitude to learn.
A specially-commissioned video charting the experiences of Vision Express apprentices is available to view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acUROlBk414
For more information about the apprenticeships at Vision Express visit: www.visionexpresscareers.com
Picture above shows the first Vision Express graduate apprentices. L-R Shannon Fitzgerald, Shannon Moore, Liana Esposito, Jade Merner, Megan Holmes, Henry Wye, HR director Kate Clayton, Thomas Measor, Lauren Webster, Ellie-Jayne Wilkinson, Chloe Few, Jessica Peters, Abigail Pierre, Megan Dowie.
About Vision Express
Vision Express has over 390 stores nationwide and continues to maintain its position as one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland.
Since its conception in 1988, Vision Express has gone from strength to strength, focusing on customer service in order to provide the best individual optical care and deliver the best service, the right product and great value. Vision Express has a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.
As part of it commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring optical retailer, Vision Express has partnered with a selection of healthcare charities which have touched the lives of Vision Express customers and teams.
These organisations provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charitable Foundation and include:
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
- Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
- International Glaucoma Association
- Macular Society
- Stroke Association
- Temple Street University Hospital.
To find out more about the Vision Express Charitable Foundation please visit: www.visionexpress.com/charitable-foundation