The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) will stop offering accredited qualifications for optical assistants at the end of this year.
The WCSM confirmed that the last sittings for its Level 2 and Level 3 optical assistant examinations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and its SCQF Level 5 and Level 7 in Scotland, would be in December this year.
The organisation assured that current candidates who are expecting to sit examinations in June and December this year will not be affected by the discontinuation of the courses, with three resit opportunities offered.
It has been confirmed that the WCSM’s Level 4 diploma courses for optical technicians and optical assistants, which lead to qualifications in SMC (Tech) and SMC (OA), will continue to be available through the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) College.
The WCSM said it anticipated that ABDO would take on the role of awarding body for these two nationally-recognised qualifications.
Speaking about the changes, master of the WCSM, John McGregor, said: “The world has changed, and it is right that we should move with it.
“In order to meet the increasing demand for eye health care, training must be a critical part of every optical professional’s career. It will need to be highly flexible to meet the needs of people working in a wider range of clinical environments, in different interdisciplinary teams and with constantly developing new technologies. The time has now come for others to take on the important task of equipping assistants and technicians for what lies ahead.”
The WCSM emphasised that it was not originally established as an educational institution and will now increase its focus on supporting new optical professionals through bursary schemes, travel awards and the recognition of excellence in research.
In September this year, ABDO College will launch a new introductory course for optical assistants. For more information, visit the ABDO College website.