Emily Toy: How a Specsavers Apprenticeship opened the door to a bright future.

We spoke with Emily Toy from Specsavers Bodmin who has recently completed an Optical Assistant Apprenticeship. Emily told us about her Apprenticeship experience and the opportunities she now feels she has for her future.

When did you first start your Apprenticeship?

I started at Specsavers in June 2018; I didn’t have any previous experience, so I came in as a Trainee Optical Assistant which is when Jo (our Store Manager) proposed the idea of starting an Optical Assistant Apprenticeship. Jo explained all the different types of things I’d need to learn in order to become an Optical Assistant – all of which I learned gradually. I completed the Apprenticeship itself in August last year. It was a good way of learning everything required for that job role. I’m now doing the Hearing Aid Dispensing Apprenticeship degree, which started in January this year and I’m due to finish that in July 2021.

“Doing the Apprenticeship ensures that you learn everything in a good, timely manner…”

How did you find the Apprenticeship overall?

The Optical Apprenticeship was really good. I literally had no knowledge of optics at all before, but I think doing the Apprenticeship ensures that you learn everything in a good, timely manner. It’s not too much information to take on board. You learn everything in stages which I think worked well. I think going straight into a job would have been a bit overwhelming for me, but learning ‘on the job’ made it nice and steady. With the Apprenticeship, they make sure you understand one area fully before moving onto the next which is a great way to learn.”

What help was available to you?

Jo, the manager at Bodmin Specsavers, and everyone on the team were so supportive. Anytime I had any questions about the work, they were so helpful and eager for me to learn more. They were positive and encouraging throughout the whole programme. I started with another person as well which I think was also helpful, as we could help each other at the same time. We also had an Apprenticeship coach that we were in regular contact with, but as it was based in-store there was always loads of help around us.

“I was really lucky with the team and colleagues I was surrounded with…”

How do you think this Apprenticeship differs from others?

In my previous job there wasn’t any room for job progression, and this was important to me. When I saw the job advert at Specsavers I applied straight away, because you didn’t need any prior experience. I was really lucky with the team and colleagues I was surrounded with, everyone had specific expertise with different aspects of optics. I was a bit apprehensive about an Apprenticeship at first, but now I know what it’s like I wouldn’t change anything, and I don’t think I would’ve progressed so far without it.

What does the future hold for you now then?

As I am now starting to be in clinic on my own, I would like to gain experience and progress to be a really good and knowledgeable Hearing Aid Dispenser. I would like to go into hear care on a full-time basis – I am really looking forward to helping patients with their hearing and building a good rapport with them.


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