An apprentice at Specsavers Opticians in Sheffield is embarking on a rewarding career in eyecare with the opticians’ Optical Apprenticeship programme.

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

'I'm really glad I went for it'
Emily, who now has a permanent role at Specsavers, says: ‘I had never considered a career in optics however, I saw the opportunity on an apprenticeship website and I’m really glad I went for it. I hugely enjoy my role in store and working as part of a team.

‘The apprenticeship allows you to progress at your own pace and at Specsavers you are surrounded by professionals so if you ever need help there is always someone to ask.

‘I have now completed my apprenticeship and started the ophthalmic dispensing optician course at Anglia Ruskin University, so in three years’ time I will have my degree.’

Anyone can apply
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.

Specavers Sheffield store director Lorna Armitage 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.'

The programme includes the completion of the Level 2 Diploma in Optics, monthly assessor visits, observations, online learning and courses.

Earn as you learn

‘I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship to others as it’s a great way to learn as well as earn,’ adds Emily. ‘By doing the apprenticeship you begin to understand the world of optics and see if it’s right for you. I really enjoyed it and it’s given me lots of opportunities to take my career forward.’

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