We met up with Laura Gardner, one of the Directors at Specsavers in Wigan on her experience with Apprenticeships and here’s what she had to say.
Laura with Gary, Liah & Katie
We decided to invest in apprentices as we already had a passion for training and development so it made sense to offer opportunities to those looking to gain a qualification whilst learning (and earning) on the job.
We’ve had a range of apprentices from varied backgrounds and academic achievement levels. Some have come to us passionate to progress in our particular industry and others have come to us because they weren’t sure what they wanted to do long term but preferred the idea of workplace learning than a college environment.
We always say if you have the right attitude and a willingness to learn there’s most definitely a role suitable for you, and progression options to turn your 12 month apprenticeship into a long term career. We’re proud that everyone who has completed an apprenticeship with Specsavers in Wigan has gone on to be offered a full time job and many have gone on to develop further or will do in the future.
Liah initially went to college to study Business BTEC because she hadn’t considered other options and going on to college appeared to be the ‘done thing’ within her year group. At the same time she began weekend/ evening work at Specsavers. She quickly realised that the textbook style of studying wasn’t for her and as she was enjoying her work at Specsavers enquired about the option of an apprenticeship. Through FLM Training we were able to offer Liah a Business Administration Apprenticeship & she is working towards a full time job as a Personal Assistant/ Administrator when she has completed the NVQ. Long term Liah will aim to enhance her existing skills as well as broadening her knowledge base to learn more about the more complex side of our administrative tasks such as accounting/invoicing and NHS contract paperwork and submissions.
Gary studied for a total of 4 years at college having tried 2 different courses. Whilst he felt able to complete the work and gain the grades; recruitment options following his chosen courses were limited and he was concerned about job security long term. With the help of Wigan Youth Zone he looked at other options and decided an apprenticeship was the right thing for him. Gary has completed a Customer Service Apprenticeship at Specsavers via FLM Training and has gone on to secure a full time role as a lab technician. Whilst a lot of the work he does is lab-based he is responsible for communicating with customers over the telephone and working as part of the team to deliver great product quality with efficient turn arounds to ensure our customer satisfaction score is always high. Gary has gone on to receive a customer first commendation and was selected out of hundreds of Specsavers employees throughout the UK to receive this as a result of his positive attitude towards exceeding customer expectations.
Katie completed her GCSEs at school and had considered going on to do Media Makeup however was worried about the popularity of the course and the competitiveness of the industry. Within a few weeks of sitting her final GCSE exam she had spoken at length to a friend who was on an apprenticeship and decided that it was the right thing for her too. She had an interest in fashion and had handed her CV in to a few stores within Wigan town centre. At her interview we discussed options and she thought a customer facing role would be ideal for her as she could use her interest in fashion / styling to help customers in frame selection. Specsavers were able to offer Katie a Customer Service Apprenticeship through FLM Training with an immediate start. She will go on to be a full time Optical Assistant and is keen to continue being involved with frame display/ merchandising as well as the possibility of progressing further and completing Dispensing qualifications.
Gary, Katie & Liah all offer completely different things to the business but within weeks of joining had integrated well, learned quickly and had become valued members of our team. We will continue to support new apprentices and the ongoing development of those who have completed apprenticeships with us. Not only do they gain a huge amount of knowledge and transferable skills in a short period of time but they also gain a formal qualification and hopefully a long-term career with Specsavers. In the picture, Gary is holding his customer first award that he received in December. He received the commendation for his attitudes towards customer service whilst working in the lab and the huge improvement he has shown in his ability to pick up the phone and talk to them himself!
If youd like any further information on the Apprenticeships FLM Training offer then please get in touch with us.