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 - ABDO College

Employers asked to get in touch with ABDO College to support launch of new apprenticeship programme for dispensing opticians

ABDO College is calling on employers with experience of offering apprenticeships to get in touch.  We aim to launch our apprenticeship programme for dispensing opticians in September 2024, subject to General Optical Council (GOC) approval.

This follows ABDO College being approved by the Department of Education to be an apprenticeship provider for the Level 6 Dispensing Optician Apprenticeship Standard. This is a key milestone for ABDO College, enabling it to offer the sector-leading Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing to students taking both the traditional route to qualification and registration as dispensing opticians and now the new apprenticeship route. 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.

There are differences between the two routes in that 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 and, for employers without previous experience of apprenticeships, a longer period of preparation will be required. This includes understanding an employer’s legal requirements in accessing apprenticeship funds, understanding how on and off the job hours balance within an apprentice’s contracted hours of work, and understanding 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 for ABDO College.”

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.

Given the timing of the GOC decision, the College will look 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 on the traditional FBDO Diploma route as usual and invites applications from anyone wishing to start this programme in September.

We will support employers without previous experience of offering apprenticeships to be ready for September 2025 entry. To support employers who wish to learn more about what is involved with apprenticeships, with a view to preparing for the 2025 intake, the College will be hosting a webinar in October and will share this date via its social media channels in September . Employers can, of course, contact us at any time to discuss this scheme.

To find out more about all courses available at ABDO College, go to www.abdocollege.org.uk.