Eight Specsavers employees were part of the first cohort to graduate from the New Zealand Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing course facilitated by the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD).

OptiBlocks is the training arm of the Association of Dispensing Opticians of New Zealand (ADONZ), the peak body representing qualified dispensing opticians in New Zealand. In 2017, ACOD was selected as OptiBlocks’ new Cert IV training provider, with the recent graduating cohort being the first to complete the new ACOD course.

To celebrate the occasion, a graduation ceremony was held in late October as part of the ADONZ Conference. Six of the Specsavers graduates were in attendance, accompanied by 19 of their fellow non-Specsavers dispensers. They were joined by their friends and family, the ACOD faculty, ADONZ and OptiBlocks representatives, and sponsors, including Specsavers as Platinum Sponsor.

Special guest Fiona Anderson, President of the International Opticians Association, delivered a keynote address to the graduates. “Tonight, you are here with classmates following a hard journey,” she said. “Today marks the end of one era and the beginning of another.”

Fiona pointed out that qualification brings with it responsibility – “…for making your own decisions, [delivering] excellent customer service and products to patients, for your own continuous education and training, and for conducting yourself in a manner befitting the profession.”

She added that the industry was changing in a way never seen before, and urged the graduates to continue their learning and maintain their involvement in the industry by embracing all the education and CPD available.

A number of awards were announced, including a Special Achievement Award, which was presented to Jasmine Brodie-Fell of Specsavers Te Rapa.

First in Course Award winner Samantha Ballantyne also became the recipient of the inaugural David Wilson Memorial Award in recognition of her outstanding academic results and interpersonal skills. The late Dr David Wilson is synonymous with training, academia and research of the highest order within the optical dispensing profession, and his wife, Jan Wilson, was present to award the accolade to Samantha.