An apprentice at Specsavers in Grimsby is embarking on a rewarding career in eyecare after completing the opticians’ Optical Apprenticeship programme.

As the nation marks National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 14 until Sunday 20 March) Lauren King is celebrating her graduation from the programme. More than 240 people are enrolled on the scheme, which is the UK’s biggest government-accredited programme.

A word from Lauren King
The 20-year-old, an optical assistant at Specsavers in Grimsby, who was born and grew up in the town and has always hankered after a career in optics, says: ‘I’ve always been fascinated with eye health but never really knew a route into the profession to start my career. I completed A2 levels in biology, English, music and a AS level in sociology at Franklin College and then began looking for apprenticeship positions. To my excitement I saw the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship with Specsavers and I jumped at the chance.

‘A year on and I’m so proud to have passed – with flying colours – and have earned my place and become a fully-fledged member of the Grimsby store team.’

About the Apprenticeship programme
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 successful apprentices to further studying opportunities, with the potential to qualify as a dispensing optician within five years.

A word from the Store Director
Specsavers Grimsby store director Gill Williams says: ‘We believe that apprenticeships are a great way to unlock the potential of young people and provide a way 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.'

More information about the Apprenticeship programme
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. At least 33 per cent of those who take on a full-time position, go on to further studies with Specsavers with many training to become dispensing assistants through Specsavers’ externally-accredited Level 3 and Level 4 Certificates in Optical Dispensing. These, in turn offer stepping-stones to further study to eventual qualify as a dispensing optician.

Lauren continues: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed my year’s training and it has given such insight into both the profession and Specsavers that I have learnt more than I felt possible in 12 months. Learning on the job and via courses has been really engaging and it’s been so helpful and brought learning to life by practicing all my new skills on a daily basis.

‘You need a great deal of self-motivation when you’re on an apprenticeship scheme as there is a lot to learn and take on board but the team in Grimsby is really supportive, they couldn’t have helped me more and I’m so pleased to be working in store and continuing with my career with Specsavers. My next ambition is to be enrolled in the dispensing optician course and ultimately to be a contact lens optician. That’s a long way ahead, but thankfully I know I have a great personal development plan with Specsavers and they understand my ambitions and will nurture my skills and help me realise my goals.

‘I couldn’t sing the praises of the apprenticeship scheme any higher, I’m so grateful for the opportunity and all I’ve learnt that I’m about to become an Apprenticeship Ambassador to support others who enroll in the scheme.’

All Grimsby store information here