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Specsavers Apprenticeship programme praised

Apprentices on outstanding programme celebrated with ministerial visit to Specsavers

APPRENTICESHIPS minister Robert Halfon has paid a visit to Specsavers to celebrate the hard work of apprentices on an outstanding programme.

Dena Wyatt, Head of apprenticeships; Philip Lodge, Retail Director; Minister; Julie Blanchard, Apprenticeship coach.

He visited Specsavers Bath where he met current and former apprentices to talk about their positive experiences of Specsavers’ apprenticeship programme, which received an outstanding grading from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). The visit was part of a ministerial tour during this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, which runs between 5 and 11 February.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon says: ‘Apprenticeships are crucial to giving people from all backgrounds the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity while addressing skills gaps and helping to grow our economy.

‘It was brilliant to see that Specsavers, one of our Top 100 apprentice employers, is providing an outstanding apprenticeship programme, As the only optical and retail training employer provider to have achieved an outstanding rating by Ofsted they are leading the way in developing our young people. Specsavers understand the apprenticeship levy and uses it well, and I hope more businesses follow their lead and experience the benefits of apprentices for themselves.’

During his visit of Specsavers Bath, Mr Halfon was given a demonstration of the work that Specsavers apprentices undertake as part of their studies. He also chatted to practice director Philip Lodge and Specsavers Head of Apprenticeships Dena Wyatt about the programme.

Mr Lodge says: ‘Specsavers mission is to change lives, including that of our apprentices who we are very proud of. It was wonderful to hear them talk to the minister about our outstanding apprenticeship programme. Not only does it benefit them and their teams, it also benefits patients and supports the NHS.’

Sasha Gilbey demonstrating how to make glasses in a lab.

Lee McGinn joined Specsavers apprenticeship programme after a career in retail management. ‘I was attracted to the apprenticeship route because I wanted a new challenge. I joined a new sector and being offered the apprenticeship gave me a good chance to build the skills I needed for a new career. I’m now an optical dispenser and have the chance to make a difference to people every day,’ he says.

Dan McMillan is six months into his apprenticeship training. He says: ‘I gets lot of support from my supervisor, and I have a clear career progression path into dispensing optics. I love working at Specsavers with so many great colleagues.’

Phoebe Patch, who was the first apprentice at Specsavers Bath in 2018, says: ‘I wondered if not going to university would hold me back. The opposite is true. Since completing my apprenticeship with Specsavers, I quickly progressed to become an in-practice trainer, supervisor, then assistant practice manager and I am now practice manager.

‘I will soon complete my dispensing optician degree and my ambition is to become a practice director within the next four years. The apprenticeship programme opened the door to a whole world of opportunities.’

For Ms Wyatt, said the visit of the minister to Specsavers was a testament to the hard work of apprentices and the colleagues who support them. ‘Apprentices really are the future and National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate them and talk about how Specsavers supports them as part of our sector-leading training programmes,’ she adds.

Highlights from Ofsted’s inspection of Specsavers apprenticeship programme include how apprentices receive ‘extremely well-planned and monitored on- and off-the-job training. They benefit from excellent resources to develop new and existing knowledge, skills and behaviours and to support their practical learning at work, for example mathematics for optics.

‘Apprentices enjoy the very well-planned, frequent and supportive learning sessions with their coaches and rightly appreciate the positive culture of inclusivity staff have created’.


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