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Optometrists’ futures

A survey of recruitment, retention and career aspirations of the optometric workforce


We engaged the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to carry out a survey of optometrists. The survey was designed to help us understand the career aspirations and motivations of optometrists. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey.

Aim of the survey

One of the biggest issues facing employers in optics, whether multiple or independent, is the recruitment and retention of staff.

We wanted to understand what drives optometrists’ career choices and what they want for their futures. We also wanted to understand what employers and managers in optics want from their own careers, and to understand their problems, and their successes, in recruiting and retaining staff.

This is so that we can develop services for members – whether they are employees or employers – to help them achieve their goals.

Background to this work

Previous work, such as the optometric workforce survey conducted for the sector by the College of Optometrists, has answered some questions and prompted more. We know that more and more people are working as locums, but we don’t know how many more might do so, nor whether current locums might opt for an employed role later in their careers. We learned how long people intended to stay in optometry, but we don’t know what might motivate them to stay longer, or seek advancement or move to a shortage area.

Our health and wellbeing survey revealed that fewer than a quarter of optometrists would be prepared to relocate in order to achieve their career goals. Why is this? Is it because there are sufficient career opportunities without the need to move? Or is it to do with non-work factors like family ties and responsibilities?

Outcomes from the survey

AOP's Council received the headline findings at its June meeting and further analysis of the data is now taking place.

We will be publishing a report in due course and communicating the findings through OT and other media. 

Actions from the survey

We will use the results in a number of ways. One is to tailor our services to members’ needs and develop new services in light of the findings. For example, it may help us identify additions to our education program at 100% Optical and throughout the year. We can also use the results to help employers understand what they can do better to attract and retain staff.


If you have any questions about why this survey was commissioned, and how the data will be used by the AOP, please contact the policy team on policy@aop.org.uk.