An ambitious 19-year-old from Mile End has his sights firmly set on an exciting career as he graduates from a coveted apprenticeship with national optician Vision Express, which this year celebrates the largest graduating class in its history.
Shahel Rehman has taken up a full-time post at the Kensington Vision Express store after completing the 13-month employee-embedded scheme, which received a record number of applicants for its 2018 intake.
Shahel has achieved a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health (Optical Retail), which is equivalent to five GCSEs. He says he never really expected to follow a career within the optical industry but, after researching available apprenticeships, believed the Vision Express route offered the most exciting future possibilities.
"I've really enjoyed working in the store with the supportive team and meeting lots of different customers." he says. "It's been very challenging, and I never believed there was so much to learn but the experience has really helped boost my confidence and I'm much better at talking to people. An apprenticeship is a great opportunity to learn the ropes before starting full-time employment and I feel the programme has really helped to prepare me for the world of work.".
The apprenticeship scheme is just one-way Vision Express is helping tackle the issue of youth unemployment in the UK. It was the first retailer to join the 5% Club, pledging to have 5% of its UK workforce comprising young people on structured training schemes over five years.
Matt Burton, Head of Learning and Development at Vision Express comments; “We are thrilled to be inspiring so many young people into an Apprenticeship programme with Vision Express. Supporting people in taking their first steps into both retail and optical careers, has always been important to us and we are incredibly proud of Shahel, whose enthusiasm for apprenticeships is very genuine and contagious and we feel very privileged to be bringing the talent of the future into our business”.
Vision Express CEO Onur Köksal adds: “Apprentices are an important injection of fresh talent into our business, and we’re committed to supporting them through their retail and optical careers. We’re proud to be able to provide our own apprenticeship scheme that offers youngsters with a passion to learn, real opportunities to progress. Our apprentices have gone on to manage stores, become dispensing opticians and even study an Optometry degree, showing the breath of opportunities available.”
Managed and delivered by in-house optical experts, the apprenticeship scheme gives candidates the opportunity to earn while they learn, with assessor support and hands-on experience.
To qualify candidates must be at least 16 years old and not in full or part time education.
A specially-commissioned video charting the experiences of Vision Express apprentices can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acUROlBk414
For more information about the apprenticeships at Vision Express visit: www.visionexpresscareers.com
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Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision, the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.
With almost 600 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.
With around 6,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include: