As the nation marks National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 14 until Sunday 20 March), 18-year old Ihsan Mahmood from Slough is among 241 people currently enrolled on the UK’s biggest government-accredited scheme.

Those that complete it become qualified optical assistants with the chance of full time employment at Specsavers.

Career decisions

Ihsan Mahmood says: ‘When I left school in August last year I knew I didn’t want to go to university, but I also knew that I didn’t want to begin work straight away without any qualifications. That’s when I decided to apply for the Specsavers Apprenticeship scheme.

‘The good thing is you don’t need any previous experience working in optics, so that really boosted my confidence. I love being able to learn on the job – it’s great to apply the theory from assessments to everyday working life, and at the same time learn from colleagues and take in the different skills and expertise while working hands-on with customers.

‘My colleagues have been amazing and it’s been great to learn from people who have been in my shoes. My long-term plan is to continue training with Specsavers to become a dispensing optician, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll work my way up to become a store director.’

A word from the director

Store director Seema Patel 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.'

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