A talented Mexborough apprentice is embarking on a rewarding career in eyecare after completing her training.

21-year-old Emma Carr is celebrating her graduation from the Specsavers Optical Apprenticeship Programme and is now employed full-time at the optician’s York Street store.

Long term goal

Emma, who is already embarking on further training with the store, studied at Swinton Community School Sixth Form. She says: ‘I’ve never wanted to do anything other than science, right from primary school.

‘My long term goal was to become an optometrist and the last 18 months at Specsavers are making that possible. I’m loving every minute.'

The next step for Emma is the Level 3 Certificate in Optical Dispensing qualification. Specsavers’ one-year apprenticeship is open to anyone over the age of 16 and requires no previous optical experience.

Further studying opportunities

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.

Emma continues: ‘The apprenticeship allowed me to progress at my own pace. The whole time, I was surrounded by optical professionals who were able to mentor me on every topic, so I was able to get practical experience as well as learning the theory.’

Specavers Mexborough store director Andy Bryer says: ‘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 Mexborough community we serve.'

Learn on the job

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.

The apprenticeships scheme has been running for just over two years and 90% of the apprentices take on full-time positions within the company.

‘I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the apprenticeship to others. I was able to learn at the same time as being able to support myself and now I have so many options in front of me,’ adds Emma.

At least 33% 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 eventually qualify as a dispensing optician.

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