There is some anecdotal evidence about labour market imbalances in the community optical workforce, as some areas experience difficulties in recruiting and retaining optometrists and dispensing opticians, while others fare much better. This can impact on the ability to deliver eye care and to deliver it effectively and sustainably, as employers may have to resort to locum optometrists and dispensing opticians. While a recent workforce survey conducted by the College of Optometrists provides key statistical data, a better understanding of the dynamics of the workforce was required. This project involved conducting a rapid review of the dynamics of the community optical workforce and the gathering of qualitative data through telephone interviews with three key groups: major providers; self-employed optometrists and dispensing opticians; and locum and employment agencies.
The research outcome was a descriptive, evidence-based ‘state of the employment market’ report for the optical industry to support a review of the current workforce and planning for future need.