As summer draws to a close young people across the UK are moving onto the next chapter of their lives, none more so than 18-year-old Alfie Parselle, who chose to look at other career options outside of university.

The St Albans lad graduated sixth form earlier this year and is one of hundreds of young apprentices chosen to take part in the UK’s biggest government-accredited apprenticeship programme through Specsavers in Hatfield. Now with his eyes firmly fixed on a career in the optical industry, Alfie is looking forward to qualifying as a fully trained optical assistant.

Next steps

Alfie said: ‘Finishing sixth form is a huge achievement. It is a time when we have to choose which area we’ll spend the rest of our lives working in. It can be pretty daunting and a decision you don’t want to take lightly, but I knew university wasn’t the right choice for me. After speaking to a friend, I found out about Specsavers’ new apprenticeship programme and knew I’d found what I was looking for.

‘I love working as part of a team and interacting with people day-to-day, so retail was a natural fit, but I didn’t want to start work without gaining some sort of qualification. In my role in the Hatfield store I get to blend the two by working full time but getting help, support and time away, to study towards gaining an accredited qualification in optical retail and employment management, which sets me up perfectly to choose exactly which route to take next.’

Next generation

Maryam Dean-Baradaran, store director at Specsavers in Hatfield, added: ‘Alfie has jumped straight into his role in store and is doing well with his coursework to become a qualified optical assistant. I’m confident he’ll be a great asset to the team for some time to come.

‘Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for young people to reach their potential and take on a rewarding career by working as they learn, gaining experience in a real life environment all at the same time.

‘For them it’s the perfect way to work towards a qualification in the industry and it allows us, as a local employer, to use our experience and expertise to help train local people to take up the mantle as the next generation of retail and optical experts.’

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