Robert Durnford from Whiteley has secured his first step on the career ladder by becoming his local specialist eye hospital’s first apprentice.
Robert, aged 23, did not feel university was for him as he prefers more hands-on experience than a ‘classroom’ environment, so left his course after a year, and joined Catch 22, a charity which helps young people get started in the workplace.
He explains: “I got my apprenticeship with Optegra Solent Eye Hospital through a government apprenticeship website, Catch 22, which outlines various opportunities and also provides a lot of support. I have completed my first year and secured an NVQ level 2, and enjoyed it so much I have decided to go on to the next level, so am now working towards my NVQ level 3.”
Sue Coleman, Hospital Director at Optegra Solent Eye Hospital, said: “It is a pleasure to have Rob as part of our team, and we are so pleased that we are able to help someone at the start of his career. It can be so difficult to get that first stage of experience, and Rob has been a tremendous help in our patient services team.”
Robert’s NVQ is in Business and Administration, so he has worked with Optegra to apply his theory to the practical work environment by taking on the role of Patient Services Assistant. Charity 22 visit him every three weeks to support him and to be updated on his work.
Robert explains: “I support the team with all admin tasks, as well as increasingly working with patients, which I love. I then find ways to tie that experience in with my coursework. So I can work, get experience and improve myself through getting more qualifications – all at the same time!”
Before his apprenticeship at Optegra, Robert studied at Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh where he secured ‘A’ levels in Psychology, Philosophy and Critical Thinking before taking a gap year, which included work experience at the Office for National Statistics.
Optegra Solent Eye Hospital is a specialist eye hospital with consultant level ophthalmic surgeons who provide a wide range of procedures including: ClarivuTM (permanent lens replacement), laser vision correction, cataract removal, glaucoma, AMD and oculoplastic procedures.