Eighteen-year-old Kirstie Allmond who works at Specsavers in Abingdon is enjoying a rewarding career in eyecare following the completion of an apprenticeship programme.
As part of National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 14 to Sunday 20 March) Kirstie celebrated her graduation from the Specsavers Optical Apprenticeship programme. More than 240 people are enrolled on the scheme, which is the UK’s biggest government-accredited programme.
After starting her A-levels, Kirstie realised it wasn’t for her and saw details of the programme online so applied there and then. Wanting to continue learning but not in a classroom setting, Kirstie was attracted by the combination of working alongside studying. She attended a graduation ceremony at the ICC in Birmingham on Tuesday 8 March.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed the year I spent on the programme. It was sometimes hard to balance working with studying but I soon found a way to make sure I got everything done,’ said Kirstie. ‘I received lots of support from my colleagues and it’s given me a great foundation for a career in optics which I’m able to build on. I’ve started my Cert 3 training now which will eventually lead to a dispensing qualification.’
Specsavers’ one-year apprenticeship is open to anyone over the age of 16 and requires no previous optical experience. Those that complete it become qualified optical assistants with the chance of full time employment at Specsavers.
The programme also opens up further studying opportunities to successful apprentices, with the potential to qualify as a dispensing optician within five years.
Working your way up
Specavers store director, Atul Vadgama said: ‘We believe that apprenticeships are a great way to unlock the potential of young people and provide a path for them to embark on successful and fulfilling careers.
‘Our scheme benefits those who want to work their way up to qualifying as a dispensing optician. It's also a great opportunity to give back to the communities we serve.'
The programme includes the completion of the Level 2 Diploma in Optics, monthly assessor visits, observations, online learning and courses. Apprentices also learn on the job, working in-store alongside eyecare professionals.
They become a key member of the store team, welcoming customers, giving them advice, booking in eye tests, carrying out pre-screening and helping the store to run as smoothly as possible.
The apprenticeships scheme has been running for just over two years and 90% of the apprentices take on full-time positions within the company.