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


Vision Express Apprenticeship In High Demand


The 5% Club member Vision Express has reported strong demand for a new apprenticeship programme that received 300 optical retail applicants in a first intake.

The company offered 20 placements during a winter recruitment phase, and are looking to secure 60 more throughout 2014. Training begins next month, with the apprentices working towards a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health, which is equivalent to five GCSEs.

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “Schemes of this kind are in high demand – impacted by the uncertainty of the UK economy and by an increasing number of young people opting for a skills route over traditional further and higher education.

“With nearly one million 16-24 year olds unemployed and only one in 10 young people joining an apprenticeship scheme when they leave school, we are delighted to offer this national skills and training opportunity and in doing so help to boost the UK’s growth agenda.”

The latest recruitment drive brings the number of Vision Express’ workforce comprising young people on structured training schemes to 3%

Government Announce New Generation of Apprenticeships

The 5% Club David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans yesterday to overhaul vocational schemes in the UK. Speaking at the Mini factory in Oxford, Cameron spoke of his intention to introduce year-long apprenticeships that will be graded on a three-point scale to put them on par with qualifications.

Speaking to 600 apprentices yesterday, Cameron said: “I said earlier this month that I want us to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment by giving young people more chances and choices in life. This goes to the heart of my vision for this country: backing hard working people who want to get on in life and making sure Britain competes and thrives in the global race.

“So I am really excited to be here today. What we’re announcing is going to make a massive difference to thousands of young people’s lives. It involves 2 things.

“One: we’re saying; if you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come. And as the range of companies signed up today shows, these are apprenticeships in different industries and sectors meaning people have a real choice about the career they want and our economy is balanced.

“Two: we’re saying if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you too. We’ve been talking to some of the biggest companies in Britain, massive global brands where young people have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder, and they have said they want to offer 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people.”

Backing the new vocational training scheme are 60 companies, collectively known as Trailblazers. The firms pledging their support include Marks & Spencer, Tesco, National Grid, Barclays, BAE Systems and BT.

In total, 100,00 training places will be offered over the next two years.

David Tomkin, Chief Executive of The 5% Club founding member Atkins, said in response to Cameron’s speech: “There are some technically complex and time critical challenges which will need to be overcome in the years ahead, from population growth to climate change, and in many cases it will be down to the next generation to find and implement the solutions. It is vital that talented young people are given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills which will allow them to deliver a better future for us all, and a commitment from businesses to invest in apprenticeship and graduate development programmes will play an important role in achieving this.”

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “The UK is suffering from a dearth of skills, while at the same time experience high levels of youth unemployment. The government announcements on Apprenticeships are welcome, but the fact is business leaders need to come together on this issue in order to tackle the problem head on. 

“The 5% Club has been launched to ask all companies in the UK to raise levels of graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations. Retail is one of the best career paths for young apprentices and sponsored students. It is vital industry picks up the baton on this issue.”

Tessella Managing Director Alan Gaby welcomed Cameron’s pledge to address the UK training and apprenticeship schemes: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction.  It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.”

What do you make of the government’s plans to overhaul the UK’s apprenticeship and training schemes?

Four New Companies Sign Up To The 5% Club

The 5% Club is delighted to announce the addition of four new members. Each company has pledged to play a part in addressing youth unemployment and skills shortages within the UK by adopting a 5% employment target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students within their organisation.

The four companies to have signed up are:

· Vision Express– one of the UK’s largest high street opticians, with 4,000 workers across more than 325 stores.

· Pimlico Plumbers– the UK’s largest independent plumbing company.

· Tessella– the International provider of science powered technology and consulting services.

· Dale Power Solutions– a global leader in critical power supplies.


Vision Express has become the first retailer to sign up to the 5% Club.

Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, said: “We understand how vital it is to get fresh talent through our doors and in today’s competitive environment, getting that first break into the world of work has never been more important.

“We are elated to be the first retailer to pledge our commitment to this initiative.  We look forward to being part of its future and are proud to formalise our commitment to growing and developing even greater numbers of young people within our business.”

Pimlico Plumbers logo

Charlie Mullins, Managing Director and founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said: “This is the single most important issue facing our economy and society in general right now. If we don’t address the chronic skills shortages afflicting us we will in a few short decades become an economic backwater.

“I have made this point to the Prime Minister on numerous occasions, made submissions to a public enquiry, and written and spoken about the issue until I’m blue in the face.

“Slowly people’s mind-sets are beginning to change on the issue of apprenticeships, and there is no better way for businesses to assist this process than to lead by example by joining The 5% Club.”


Alan Gaby, Tessella’s Managing Director, said: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction.  It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.

I am proud that Tessella has joined The 5% Club and whole heartedly support its 5% target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations over a 5 year period.

I have had the good fortune to build a career in the UK technology industry over the past 30 years through training and education opportunities that companies offered and so I am convinced that The 5% Club strategy will be effective.

As a company operating in the UK, we are committed to this country’s growth agenda.  Against this backdrop we are aware of the chronic skills shortage and youth unemployment that the UK faces and acknowledge the importance of developing our people as both a business and social imperative.  We aim to play a role in transforming the fortunes of young, talented people in the UK and to ensure that the UK retains its reputation for innovation.”


Dale Power Solutions Chief Executive Tim Wilkins said: “Dale Power Solutions is proof that SME’s can make a significant contribution, work towards and meet the 5% Club Charter. We currently have 6.2% of our workforce in an apprenticeship or sponsored graduate education and by joining The 5% Club we are committed to maintaining a level of at least 5%.

“By signing up to the 5% Club we aim to encourage other organisations to do the same and help make a difference and give the nearly 1 million unemployed under 25’s in the UK a brighter future.”

Each of the four new members have agreed to publicly report progress on the 5% target in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) section of their Annual Report.

Companies wishing to sign up to The 5% Club or which simply would like more information can visit or email