Katie Popay has her sights set on a successful career.
The 17-year-old has secured a coveted place on an in-demand apprenticeship programme with national optician Vision Express.
I love talking to customers and helping them and I would recommend the programme to anyone. It’s a great experience and, if anyone is considering it, they should definitely just do it.Katie Popay
Katie, from Houghton, has taken up a full-time post at the Sunderland Vision Express store on the 13-month employee-embedded scheme, which has received more than 5,500 applicants since it began in February 2014.
Katie will be working towards a Level 2, Intermediate Apprenticeship in Health (Optical Retail), which is equivalent to five GCSEs.
“I’m the only one of my friends doing an apprenticeship,” she said.
“The others are in college or sixth form and none of them are really enjoying it. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the optical industry but I was attracted to doing something out of the ordinary and I’m really enjoying it.
“No two days are the same and I love the variation.”
As the only apprentice at the store, Katie says the team really look after her and help with her learning every day: “It’s a great place to be and I really hope I can stay on with Vision Express after I’ve completed the programme,” she said.
“I love talking to customers and helping them and I would recommend the programme to anyone. It’s a great experience and, if anyone is considering it, they should definitely just do it.”
Store manager Ian Laing said: “Our apprenticeship programme continues to be extremely popular and is a fantastic way to nurture young, ambitious talent. We are working closely with Katie to develop her knowledge and skills and hopefully opening up a wealth of career options to enable her to progress further within the company.”
The June intake will be open from late this month. To qualify candidates must be at least 16 years old and not in full or part time education.