Andover Optician Vision Express James Collier

A driven 21-year-old from Andover is celebrating graduating from a coveted apprenticeship with national optician Vision Express, which this year boasts the largest graduating class in its history.

James Collier has taken up a full-time post at the Andover Vision Express store after completing the 13-month employee-embedded scheme, which received a record number of applicants for its 2018 intake.

The graduation ceremony took place in Nottingham on 27 June where James was presented with a ‘Special Recognition’ award for his absolute determination to succeed over the course of the programme. James, who suffers from Asperger’s, was chosen for the award for putting himself outside of his comfort zone on a daily basis to be the absolute best he can be.

James has achieved a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health (Optical Retail), which is equivalent to five GCSEs.

James had tried his hand at various industries during college but finally found himself excelling at Vision Express. “I studied Animal Care, Mechanics and IT at college but none of the courses were what I was expecting,” he explains.

“I’m keen to continue in optics as the experience has massively improved my communication and interpersonal skills.”

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.