Vision Express one of four new companies to join The 5% Club

23 Oct 2013

23 October 2013: VISION Express is the first retailer to sign up to The 5% Club – the campaign calling on companies to adopt a new 5% employment target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations.

The high street optician, which employs 4,000 workers across more than 325 stores, is one of four companies to step forward and join the founding members of The 5% Club, immediately following its launch.

The other companies to have signed up are:

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 CEO Jonathan Lawson 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.”

The 5% Club is calling on all public and private companies, including those in the FTSE350, to “Invest in a Generation” by joining the campaign. As a member they will sign a charter aspiring to work towards 5% of their UK workforce being young people on structured training schemes over the next five years.

Founding members include QinetiQ, the defence and security company; Babcock International, the FTSE 100 support services group; the UK arm of global giant EADS; Atkins, the design, engineering and project management consultancy; MBDA, a leader in missiles and missile systems; and Renishaw, the engineering group. The campaign is also endorsed and supported by both the CBI and the department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

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.”

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.”

By becoming a member of The 5% Club, companies will publicly report progress on the 5% target in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) section of their Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent. It is believed this is the first time companies in the UK will have made the commitment to measure and report their performance against such a target.

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

Notes for Editors

The 5% Club is a campaign to get the UK’s public and private companies to commit to raising the number of apprentices, sponsored students and graduates on formal programmes to 5% of their total workforce within the next five years. The aim of the campaign is to tackle both the chronic skills shortage and youth unemployment in Britain and help the country remain at the forefront of innovation.

The 5% Club charter pledges members to:

Play a part in addressing youth employment and skills shortage issues
Pledge to work toward having a minimum 5% of their UK workforce enrolled on formalised apprentice, sponsored student and/or graduate development schemes within five years
Report publicly every year on the above as a CSR metric in its Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent
Be an ambassador of The 5% Club and encourage other businesses to participate in the campaign.

Key Facts

UK youth unemployment is currently 20%
350,000 graduates are coming onto the market each year
A quarter of engineering graduates do not go into an engineering or technical career
3 out of 5 firms are struggling to recruit workers with advanced technical skills they need

For further media enquires please contact Neil McLeod or Ciaran McCale at PHA Media on 020 7440 0811, or

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Vision Express one of four new companies to join The 5% Club