Vision Express welcomes new recruits during National Apprenticeship Week

Vision Express, The 5% Club

The 5% Club member Vision Express has marked National Apprenticeship Week by announcing the arrival of 15 school and college leavers onto their apprenticeship programme.

The group have embarked on a 13 month employer-embedded programme where they will work towards a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health- the equivalent to 5 GCSEs.

Vision Express apprenticesMeanwhile, as the latest recruits get settled in, the high street opticians are on the lookout for a further 20 apprentices, having opened applications to their Spring apprenticeship intake.

In October, Vision Express became the first high street retailer to join The 5% Club, having pledged to meet the 5% employment target as specified in the Club’s Charter.

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “It’s fantastic to have our new recruits on board. They should be extremely proud of themselves for securing a place on this apprenticeship programme, given the volume and calibre of candidates who applied. We are really pleased with the programme we have developed, and hope the apprentices take full advantage of the training and career opportunities available to them. We wish them every success for their future with Vision Express.”

To keep an eye on the progress of The 5% Club and its members, follow us on Twitter @5PercentClubUK. To learn more about Vision Express’ recruitment programe

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The 5% Club Case Study: Mike Dodd

As part of our National Apprenticeship Week drive, we take a look at QinetiQ apprentice Mike Dodd. Mike is part of the QinetiQ team taking part in the 2014 Brathay Challenge. Supported by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Brathay Challenge aims to find the apprentice team of the year by putting them through a series of challenges aimed at testing team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities.

To monitor how they get on, follow the team on Twitter: @QATSBAC14

Mike is a second year team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities. Read more about his day to day role at QinetiW, and his experiences in the Brathay Challenge below.

Mike Dodd The 5% Club Case StudyBefore embarking on an apprenticeship at QinetiQ, I had applied to two different aeronautical courses at university, as well as this apprenticeship. I was struggling to decide which of the courses to study, and after a discussion with a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, I decided to pursue the apprenticeship instead. The main thing that attracted me was the hands-on experience I would gain whilst earning my way at the same time.

I was aware of QinetiQ and the Boscombe Down training school before I applied to join their apprenticeship programme. I was accepted onto their mechanical  aeronautical apprenticeship course, and currently I am in my second year.

The first two years of the apprenticeship are spent in the Hangar. A typical day revolves around theory and practical learning. A day lasts from 8am to 4:30pm and the morning is usually spent in the classroom, learning the theory side of mechanical engineering. In the afternoon, we’ll head out to the hangar for practical lessons, where we’ll usually work on decommissioned aircraft. It offers a great environment to learn and develop skills.

The highlight of my time so far as a QinetiQ apprentice has to be watching ground runs of an RAF Tornado jet. A ground run is a series of safety checks performed on an aircraft, including thrusting the engines. I was fortunate enough to experience the incredible sound a Tornado generates first hand, and the experience was awesome and unforgettable. I get a real kick out of working and being around aircraft, so it was an incredibly exciting experience. Although of course, not everyday is like that!

One of the aspects of an apprenticeship that a degree just cannot match is the unparalleled experience that is on offer. Depending on your degree, there are a multitude of reasons to go down the university route, but by pursuing an apprenticeship, I am gaining valuable working hours very early on in my career. In that respect, I am gaining an advantage over a graduate.

I have two and a half years left of my apprenticeship at QinetiQ, and I am already looking forward to continuing my work beyond the training My advice to any school leavers looking to pursue an apprenticeship is to just go for it! There is an impression that apprenticeships aren’t as ‘academic’ as university but I do not believe that at all.

What I would say is that the skills you learn at A-Level are vital, whether you go to university or enrol on an apprenticeship, so work equally as hard regardless of your future plans.

Part of my QinetiQ apprenticeship involves taking part in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, a nationwide competition supported by the National Apprenticeship Service and organised by the Brathay Trust. The aim is to demonstrate the quality of apprenticeships, whilst there is a competitive edge to do as well for your company as possible.

Last week, I took part in the Apprenticeship Slam, the latest event in the competition. I will be spoke in front of senior secondary school pupils about my training and background, and was up against challengers from the likes of Babcock and JP Morgan. The general outline of my talk was to explain why QinetiQ’s apprenticeship programme is the best in the world. Of course in my view, it is!

“What we want is for people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis”

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Leo Quinn, CEO of one of The 5% Club founding members QinetiQ, joined Evan Davis and Simon Jack on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

As a new report released by the Department for Business revealed that 44% of employers in the UK plan to take on apprentices in the UK, Quinn praised National Apprenticeship Week and the work of The 5% Club, but called for more action to be taken in order to tackle the UK’s skills shortage.

“We look at apprenticeships as apprenticeships for life- what’s happening for the other 51 weeks (of the year). What we want is people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis.

“The 5% Club is designed for any corporation to make a public declaration that 5% of their employee base will be made up of apprentices or graduates on formal training schemes”.

Leo Quinn was joined by QinetiQ apprentice Robert, who spoke of the inspiration that led him to pursue an apprenticeship.

“When I was seventeen, my great-uncle left me his toolbox when he passed away, and in that toolbox was a picture along with a letter. The letter explained how he became an apprentice during the Second World War. After reading the letter, it really drove me to becoming an apprentice myself”

When asked why he pursued an apprenticeship over going to university, Robert explained:

“I went into an apprenticeship when youth unemployment was quite high. I decided to go for an apprenticeship because I’d have the hands on skills and ability afterwards to get a job. You need the skills alongside the knowledge”.

Pressed as to whether recruiting apprentices is worth its while for SME’s, Quinn spoke of the true economic value of such a programme:

“Apprentices rejuvenate the employment space. They’re creative, they’re energising, and they value they add far outweighs any cost that they incur”.

To follow the progress of The 5% Club, and the activities of our members during National Apprenticeship Week, follow @5percentclubuk and @LeoQuinn_UK.

National Apprenticeship Week 2014: 3rd-7th March

Next week is National Apprenticeship Week. Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, the week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the impact they have had on individuals, businesses and the UK economy.

National Apprenticeship Week 2014

Now in its seventh year the theme for National Apprenticeship Week is Great Apprentices.

The growing fear of a UK skills shortage has pushed the issue of apprenticeships to the forefront of debate over the past year and The 5% Club has led the charge, urging public and private companies to Invest in a Generation.

Looking ahead to the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week, we want to share with you some of the standout apprentices from our 20 members, including apprentices who have gained national recognition for their efforts over the past year.

Natasha Pitts, Dale Power Solutions Apprentice

Natasha Pitts The 5% Club

Natasha’s efforts since joining Dale Power Solutions in 2010 was recognised at the National Apprenticeship Awards in November, having been handed the Highly Commended Award for ‘exceptional work as a Higher Apprentice’.

Natasha is currently on an electrical and electrical engineering apprenticeship at Dale Power Solutions and has been described as a role model and a star of the future.

Read Natasha’s case study here

Samantha Ball, MBDA Apprentice

In October of last year, MBDA apprentice Samantha Ball  took to the stage at the Conservative party conference to promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to full-time education.

Samantha, a logistics apprentice, is currently in her final year of a four year MBDA apprenticeship and has worked across various departments of the company on rotating placements.

Tom Wheatley, QinetiQ Apprentice

Tom Wheatley The 5% Club

Tom is a third year aeronautical apprentice at QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down training school. He is an avid supporter of apprenticeships and has offered his support to The 5% Club’s aims and achievements.

Read Tom’s case study and thoughts on The 5% Club here