Wanted: employers who offer apprenticeships

ABDO College is seeking employers with experience of offering apprenticeships. The college aims to launch an apprenticeship programme for dispensing opticians in September 2024, subject to General Optical Council (GOC) approval.

The Department of Education (DfE) has approved the college as a provider for the Level 6 Dispensing Optician Apprenticeship Standard. The college plans to launch the programme in September, with a group of employers who already run apprenticeships for other areas of their business. 

DfE approval is a key milestone, enabling the college to offer the sector-leading Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing to students taking either the new apprenticeship route or the traditional route to qualification and registration as dispensing opticians. 

Traditional route students and apprentices follow the same programme structure and pace of learning, through an approach which blends online, on block and on-the-job training. All students are assessed in the same way by ABDO as the qualification provider and professional body for dispensing opticians.

Apprenticeship what employers must do 

The apprenticeship provides the opportunity for students and employers in England to access government funding, rather than having to pay for their education and assessments themselves. However, there are additional requirements on employers under the apprenticeship route. 

These include understanding: 

  • the employer’s legal requirements in accessing apprenticeship funds
  • how on- and off-the-job hours balance within an apprentice’s contracted hours of work
  • how the employer, training provider and apprentice work together within the apprenticeship framework.  

Nina McDermott, ABDO College principal, says: “I am proud to have led the college through its successful application to become an apprenticeship provider. This is testament to the strength of our academic programmes and the college as a whole and is the start of an exciting next chapter.”

The GOC is currently considering the application to introduce the new apprenticeship route to registration for dispensing opticians and the sector expects to hear the outcome at the end of July.

The college plans to launch its apprenticeship programme in September 2024 with a group of employers who already run apprenticeships for other areas of their business. Nina says: “This will help us ensure we offer the best learner and employer experience in our first year, building on this for a wider 2025 intake.”

The college will also be enrolling students on the traditional FBDO Diploma route as usual and invites applications from anyone wishing to start this programme in September.

New employers

The College will support employers without previous experience of offering apprenticeships to be ready for September 2025 entry. There will be a webinar in October for businesses to find out more about what is involved. The date will be shared via social media channels in September. Employers can contact the College at any time to discuss this scheme.