GOC report explores satisfaction in the optical workforce

Following the 2021 registrant survey, the regulator took a closer look into levels of job satisfaction and the groups most likely to make a change in their career in the coming years

survey form
Pexels/Sora Shimazaki
Analysis commissioned by the General Optical Council has found that, while more than half of respondents were satisfied in their current role, levels of dissatisfaction seem to be driving practitioners to consider making changes within their careers in the coming years. 

Following the 2021 registrant survey, the GOC commissioned Eventure Research to further analyse the findings that related to the future of the optical workforce.

The initial report found that 58% felt satisfied in their role over the last 12 months, while 43% of optometrists were considering studying towards additional qualifications within the next two years.

Further analysis of these topics would provide “useful insight,” the GOC suggested, with numbers scaled up “to offer an approximation of the number of registrants who may have answered in a particular way.”

This enables the GOC to “better understand what the optical workforce in the UK may look like in the future,” while the findings could also support workforce planning for sector bodies.

Job satisfaction

Drilling into the findings around job satisfaction, the analysts found that those most likely to report being satisfied in their role included dispensing opticians and student dispensing opticians, individuals working for an independent practice, in a hospital, or in education or academia, those involved in enhanced eye care services, and those who worked full-time.

However, 20% reported feeling dissatisfied. The analysts found that the subgroups most likely to report feeling this way within their role included optometrists, individuals working for a multiple practice or in domiciliary, those working as locums, and individuals working in London.

Change on the horizon

The report also looked into the groups who said they had considered making career changes over the coming few years.

With 43% planning to gain additional qualifications or skills over the next 12-24 months, the groups most likely to report considering expanding their skillsets included optometrists, student optometrists and student dispensing opticians, those involved in the delivery of enhanced eye care services, or individuals working for a multiple, in a hospital, or in academia.

Female registrants, and individuals aged between 18-34 or 35-54, were among those most likely to seek to gain additional qualifications over the next 12-24 months, along with individuals working full-time and those satisfied with their role or job.

The survey found that 36% of respondents said they planned to reduce their hours over the next year to two years (the analysts suggested this equates to approximately 10600 registrants). Those most likely to reduce their hours included optometrists, those involved in enhanced eye care services, those working full-time or as locums, individuals aged 55+ and those dissatisfied with their job.

In addition, 26% said they planned to leave the profession over the next 12-24 months, (equating to approximately 7600 registrants, the report suggested). Those working as dispensing opticians, in domiciliary, as locums, or in London, were among the subgroups more likely to consider this. Those not currently working, aged between 35-54 and individuals dissatisfied with their job were also among these more likely to consider the move.

A further 13% of respondents (equating to approximately 3800 registrants) said they planned to retire over the coming months. Among those most likely to do so included those working part-time, working for an independent practice, and male registrants.

Another 12% said they planned to switch to locum work, while 11% were considering a career break. For both pathways, the subgroups most likely to be thinking about the change included individuals working for a multiple, working in London, or not currently working, along with those aged between 18-34, and those dissatisfied in their role.

The regulator said it plans to include these questions in future registrant surveys set for 2022 and 2023, in order to track any changes over time, and will consider whether follow-up questions related to workforce planning could also be beneficial.