Specsavers in Stroud is keen to try and encourage youngsters into the profession, citing a current shortage of talent in the region.

Optician Naheema Akhter has just left the store to move back closer to her family, and store director Riz Choonara is keen to highlight the benefits of optics as a profession. This is particularly important to try and address any future demands that will be placed on the store as patient numbers increase.   

Proving difficult to recruit

‘Naheema joined us in 2015 as a pre-reg optician and has been a valued member of the team for the last two years,’ said Riz. ‘We’re sad to see her go and we’re obviously keen to be able to fill the gap that she’s left. It’s proving difficult though as there simply isn’t a pool of graduates in the local area that we can tap into.

'While we can of course use locums in the interim, we are keen to be able to appoint someone permanently, so that they can become part of our dedicated team and build relationships with local people.

‘This kind of shortage is a nationwide problem, but there are definitely particular regional pockets which are more pronounced and sadly that’s what we’re finding here.

'We are committed to supporting youngsters entering the profession and as optometry is an interesting and rewarding career path, would like to see more students considering it as an option when choosing what to study at university.

University courses growing in number

‘While there are currently optometry degree courses offered at Cardiff, London city, Plymouth and Aston Universities, I’m pleased that it looks like there might soon by an optometry degree offered slightly closer at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol.

'This should hopefully help, but there is undoubtedly more that needs to be done in the longer term to ensure the profession attracts more people.’

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