New BTEC for optical assistants

Specsavers has created a BTEC qualification to develop the skills of thousands of optical assistants (OAs) working in its community practices.    The new Pearson BTEC Level 3 certificate includes units from the existing Pearson BTEC Level 3 certificate for optometric clinical assistants and dispensing assistants. Learners choose additional units to fit their roles, providing a tailored learning experience.   Jodie Glanville (pictured) is the first person to complete the new qualification, works at Specsavers’ Plymouth practice: “I use the knowledge I gained completing the Cert 3…

Celebrating apprentices with learning differences and disabilities

Virtual event, Monday 5 Feb 1pm–2pm Register here Join this webinar on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week to hear from disabled apprentices, and those with learning differences, sharing what works when it comes to supporting people with additional needs. Rabia Lemahieu of Disability Rights UK explains how employers can embrace diversity.

Earn while you learn – apprenticeships

National Apprenticeship Week in February highlighted that there's never been a better time to think about combining working and learning. You can get hands-on experience while studying for a recognised qualification – and earning a salary.  There are a range of opportunities in eyecare including apprenticeships for optical assistants for spectacle makers (lab technicians) in customer service in business Eyecare apprentices work in every size of business, from independent local opticians to nationwide or international firms such as Specsavers or…

It’s not all rocket science – podcast highlights careers in STEM

If you are wondering where studying science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) could take you, turn to the the Eye Opening Careers podcast for inspiration. Hosts Gemma Drake, an early careers specialist, and optics educator Nas Hinglotwala are passionate about helping young people succeed.  They talk to students, employers and university tutors about careers in science, exploring how Gen Z are navigating their post-16 studies. In the latest episode, second year pharmacy students Abigail Wattleworth and Uns Khatib discuss their…

The teachers’ guide to careers in eyecare

The optical world is less well known than other branches of healthcare. But it offers a range of rewarding careers, for people with all kinds of talents and interests. Some roles offer recruits the chance to earn while they learn, while qualifications include apprenticeships, diplomas or degrees. From healthcare to fashion, technology to retail, management, design or manufacturing, there’s an eyecare role for everyone. We’ve got a whole host of resources for students and teachers.  Careers in eyecare lesson plan …

Exam results not what you hoped for? A career in eyecare can offer a bright future

The government in England is planning to reduce the number of top A level grades this year. Ministers want to return to pre-pandemic statistics, the proportion awarded in 2019. Scotland and Wales are moving more slowly. It may be bad news for some students, parents and schools. But if you miss out, there are still plenty of options for a rewarding career in eyecare. Whether you are into science and technology, fashion or engaging with people, there’s a great future…

Listen up! Care for people with hearing loss

It’s a little-known field but audiology is a rewarding option for everyone from school leavers and graduates to career changers, says Emma Walker, director of hearing services at Farnham Specsavers Hearing Centre.  Emma’s career wasn’t planned. She got a part-time job with Specsavers during university. “My English degree didn’t point me in any direction. When I graduated I went full time as an optical assistant.”  The store had a vacancy for a hearing aid dispenser and suggested Emma take the…

Waiting for exam results?

Have you survived your GCSEs, or nationals in Scotland? It can be a nerve-wracking time. Here are some tips to help. When will I find out?  Results day for National Qualifications in Scotland is on Tuesday 8 August and GCSE results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and some Scottish schools) is on Thursday 24 August. Well done! Congratulate yourself. Whether you get the results you expected or not, that's OK. Try to celebrate what you have achieved – you…

A winning design: framing the future

Did you ever wonder how spectacle frames are designed? The Royal College of Art (RCA) runs an annual competition for the best design from its students – the winning entry is shown off at the 100% Optical show. This year’s theme was sustainable sunglasses. Students had to use  materials that don’t hurt the planet or people’s pockets during the cost of living crisis. Careers in Eyecare spoke to the winner, Linwei Zheng. What encouraged you to enter the competition?I'm currently…

Optical assistants seize the opportunity

More than 200 optical assistants at Specsavers have completed training as clinical technicians, qualified to carry out extra duties.  The scheme takes learners through diagnostic information gathering and pre-assessment procedures, working under optometrist supervision. Michelle Wilks, from the Headingley practice in Leeds, West Yorkshire, was the 201st graduate. Michelle says: “It gives you so much more understanding and I am able to support the clinics even better than before. I was already competent in performing delegated duties, but now I…