How Do Apprenticeships Help us #BlazeATrail? Specsavers Bodmin’s Story

Posted on March 07, 2019
Author: Lifeatspecsavers

We asked Jo McLean, Store Director at Specsavers Bodmin, how hiring Apprentices helped her to #BlazeATrail in her store:

Benefit - How has your store benefited from employing Apprentices?
Our Apprentices come in with no optical knowledge or preconceptions, they come in fresh and willing to learn everything you give to them. They work through a fully structured Specsavers Optical Apprenticeship programme and at the end of their thirteen-month Apprenticeship they are confident, self-motivated and high achieving members of the team.

It is fantastic to see them gain confidence, grow and develop into a person that works really hard for your business. They learn all the different stages of the journey by buddying, having one day a week off the job learning, using iLearn, attending all CDP courses and working in all areas of the business.

This is a cost-effective way of delivering an optically-focussed structured programme ending with a highly trained, skilled member of the team who has benefited from on the job training.

Our business has grown with the Apprentices as our Apprentices have grown with the business.

We have had 10 Apprentices, 9 of whom are still working with us in Bodmin, and they make up over a third of our whole team.  During and following on from the Apprenticeship they take on additional responsibilities such as glazing in the lab, championing Corporate, Contact Lenses etc. Maggie, one of our mature apprentices, has also completed a Hearing Care Assistantcourse and now works in clinic.

Learn - What have you learnt through Apprenticeships and what would you say to anyone considering hiring one?
The Apprentices come with no knowledge, very little confidence, communication or personal skills. This is a structured programme from start to finish where they learn all about the different stages of the journey and all about the business from optics, Contact Lenses, Enhanced Optical Services, Lab and Hearcare etc. which in turn helps them to build their confidence and personal skills and completely broadens their knowledge.

Treat the Apprentices how you wish to be treated. Everyone learns in a different way and at a different pace. Get to know and understand your Apprentices and spend some quality time teaching, supporting and coaching them. Give them regular feedback and recognise what they do well. I am really bowled over with the success we have had in Bodmin with all our Apprentices. You only get out what you put in!

Aspire - An Apprentice’s view on what their Apprenticeship has enabled them to achieve
Sharon, one of our Apprentices says, “The Apprenticeship has given me a career in optics I never knew I could have and, as a mature Apprentice, it’s given me a second chance, it’s amazing because during my time in Bodmin I have really enjoyed being a valued member of the team”.

Emily H says, “My confidence has gone up amazingly, getting all the support has been incredible. In school, it was so difficult being dyslexic. When a teacher asked me a question, I shut down completely but this programme is amazing I can and have achieved goals I never thought were possible.”

Emily T says, “I’ve never had a job that really meant anything. Here we’re not treated like Apprentices, we are part of the team. We get to learn everything step by step. We buddy up and learn from experienced team members. I have learnt a lot of different skills I never knew I could have and I work at a good pace that I feel comfortable with. We are not given the horrible little jobs, we do it all. It’s great, we even have extra responsibilities which helps build our confidence because we know we are trusted.”

Zest - Why are we and our Apprentices passionate about the value the Apprenticeship brings?
We are very passionate about the Apprenticeship programme. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s fantastic to see our Apprentices grow and develop. They add so much value to our business. All the team have that sense of success as they have all contributed to the Apprentice’s success. We watch the Apprentices grow as people and see their knowledge and confidence build. They are very valued members of our team. I would certainly recommend this programme to other partners as its positive for the store, the team and the Apprentice.

Energise – What is the cultural impact of hiring Apprentices?
Continually using the Apprenticeship programme keeps all the team learning and developing. Having regular visits from the assessors who set the Apprentices work, objectives and targets also keeps us on track with their learning. We develop our staff to have as many opportunities as possible and ensure they have these opportunities as early as possible in their career with us. Our business performance continually improves, as the skills of our team develop and grow. The longer we continue with the programme, the quicker the Apprentices become invaluable to us. We have a culture of supporting learning and development and our team our priceless.

Would you like to #BlazeATrail? Get in touch with Specsavers Recruitment Services for a quick chat about our award-winning Apprenticeship scheme. You can call SRS on 01566 771 888 or email