Optometrists' Futures 2018

A survey report of recruitment, retention and career aspirations of the optometric workforce, for the Association of Optometrists

Robinson D, Edwards M, Cockett J, Hey L |   | Association of Optometrists | Oct 2018

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With an awareness that one of the greatest challenges facing employers in optics is the recruitment and retention of staff, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) commissioned IES to carry out a survey to help them understand the career aspirations and motivations of optometrists in the UK. Attracting a response from 2,357 students, pre-registration optometrists and GOC-registered optometrists, follow-up interviews were also conducted in order to add qualitative material to illustrate the quantitative survey findings.

Some of the main survey findings include:

  • Flexibile working is highly valued, with many respondents working as locums.
  • Optometry follows the trend seen in many other health professions, in that it is becoming increasingly female and Asian.
  • Established optometrists give importance to things like culture, values, flexibility and convenience when choosing their workplace, meanwhile younger/newer optometrists tend to be attracted by the support, equipment and training offered.
  • An interest in running their own business was observed amongst around a quarter of respondents.
  • The majority of respondents expressed their intention to stay in the profession for at least five years or until they retire.
  • Nearly 25 per cent of employers/managers reported that their practice had an optometrist vacancy.
  • Employers reported examples of successful recruitment techniques, however findings confirmed that optometrists often either can’t or don’t want to relocate, reflecting the views of employers who find it difficult to find suitable candidates for optometry roles.