Specsavers Porthcawl focused on benefits of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have helped Specsavers Porthcawl to recruit, develop and retain good quality staff who are a key business asset.

The store, which has three apprentices and has employed eight since it opened in Porthcawl in 2015, holds the Specsavers ‘Platinum Employer’ accreditation for people management.


Most apprentices employed by Specsavers Porthcawl have either stayed and progressed their careers with the store or now work in local hospitals.

Now, the company has been shortlisted for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 as aSmall Employer of the Year finalist.


Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor is EAL.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held at ICC Wales, Newport on March 22, 2024. The awards highlight the outstanding achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Inspiro Learning, in partnership with Cambrian Training Company, delivers Apprenticeships in Retail Skills and works closely with Specsavers Porthcawl on recruitment in the local community.

A focus on staff development enables the store to provide enhanced clinical optometry and audiology services which allows patients to receive care closer to home.

Apprentices have helped to streamline the store’s audiology service, improve efficiency in the contact lens team and taken on a coaching role as store trainer.

The emphasis on personal development spans from the store directors, who have completed higher qualifications, through to optometrists and retail staff.

“The apprenticeship programme has helped the business no end, as we have a very engaged team of employees who have solid customer service skills and a desire to develop themselves, which helps our future growth plans,” said Claire Edwards, the store’s ophthalmic director.

“Over the last eight years, we have seen the benefits of apprenticeships not only as a business but in the development of the young people we have recruited. The culture of learning and development is fully embedded and we are always looking for new opportunities to offer our team.”

Claire stressed the importance of apprenticeships providing opportunities for people, who may not have done well at school, to acquire skills and formally recognised qualifications.

Diane Block, Inspiro Learning’s regional manager, said: “Specsavers Porthcawl have been a great supporter of the apprenticeship programme for several years. All directors and managers support apprentices to achieve to the best of their ability and encourage them to take on additional responsibilities to enhance their skills.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Specsavers Porthcawl and all the other finalists.

“Today’s apprentices will be tomorrow’s specialists, and Apprenticeship Awards Cymru allows us to recognise apprentices, work-based learning practitioners, and employers that have gone above and beyond. Their tenacity, passion, and commitment to growing their own careers, the careers of others, and the larger Welsh economy is inspiring. I wish each of the finalists the best of luck at the awards and with their future endeavours.”

Congratulating the finalists, Al Parkes, managing director at EAL, said: “As the specialist awarding organisation and skills partner for the engineering and manufacturing industry, apprenticeships in Wales are especially important to us. Apprenticeships play an important role in supporting personal progress through career opportunities and a sense of achievement, while ensuring that employers have the right skills at the right time to keep up with evolving industry needs. EAL is committed to encouraging employers to take on apprentices. Marking the achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru is vital to this.”

For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: https://gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 03000 603000.

Picture caption:


Apprentices Sarah Taylor and  Ellie Jones  with ophthalmic director Claire Edwards at Specsavers Porthcawl.