Young Birkenhead Specsavers lab manager has golden career in sight

A HIGH-FLYING spectacle maker at a Birkenhead opticians has a golden career in sight after becoming one of the youngest lab managers in the UK and gaining his industry’s highest qualification.

Phil McEvoy, who works at Specsavers in Pyramids Shopping Centre, said he wasn’t put off by some short-sighted people who believed his career horizons were limited by not going on to university when he left school.

He believes his latest achievements have put a whole new perspective on things after he landed his top possible qualification and was promoted to run his own department – all at the tender age of 23.

Phil is celebrating becoming one of a select band from across the UK to obtain the Level 4 Diploma for Optical Technicians, which is widely recognised as the gold standard for the industry.

Administered by the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) the qualification is tailored to the needs of those who aspire to become senior technicians and supervisors and, on average, only 40 of the coveted diplomas are presented each year.

Phil, who lives in Wallasey and has worked at Specsavers since 2010, explained that gaining the accolade meant two years of hard study, much of which had to be done at home after working a full day in the lab.

He said: “It was pretty hard going but well worth doing because there aren’t many people who manage to gain the diploma.

“Although I did do some block release, most of the study had to be done after work. There were all sorts of aspects to it, much of it based on mathematical calculations.

“At the end of the first year of the course there were three exams to do for which I had to travel down to London and the second year finished with more exams in Cardiff, actually six of them in just one day.

“I’m glad to say I passed them all with flying colours and now I’m one of the few people in my industry to hold the diploma.

“There were 20 people on my particular course and only about half of them managed to pass, which makes me feel very proud.

“I went down to the WCSM’s headquarters near Tower Bridge in London to be presented with the diploma which was a very special moment for me.”

Gaining the diploma has further enhanced Phil’s reputation at Specsavers where his ability has seen him rise from trainee technician to manager of a four-strong lab department in just three years.

But he is also proud to have proved his doubters wrong by excelling in his career, despite choosing not to go to university.

“Some people suggested to me when I was in sixth form that if I didn’t go to university, then I wasn’t going to amount to anything,” he said.

“I spent a couple of years working in a local solicitors’ office and then when I was looking for a fresh challenge I was lucky enough to get the job at Specsavers.

“I like to think that the progress I have managed to make with the company in just three years and now obtaining the Level 4 Diploma has helped me to prove the doubters wrong and to make my own mark.

“I’ve always had great support from my family and friends and everyone is made up for me about the qualification.”

Phil, who spends what little spare time he has playing five-a-side football with his friends at the Soccer Dome on the Wirral, is in charge of three other lab technicians who produce spectacles for Specsavers’ branches at Pyramids Shopping Centre and Wallasey.

Both are run by director Ken Roberts, who said of Phil: “The qualification he’s job obtained is the highest you can get in the industry and we’re all very proud of him.

“He’s worked very hard and we’ve supported him all the way. He’s a very bright lad and one of the best lab technicians we’ve ever had.

“From his first day on the job I recognised that he wasn’t just trying to learn the technical side of it but also had an eye on running the department.”

Ken explained that one of Phil’s key responsibilities is overseeing the smooth operation of the branch’s state-of-the-art robotic lens edger, which Specsavers became only the second opticians in the country to acquire when it took delivery 18 months ago.

He said: “The machine is not only remarkably accurate – producing lenses to a tolerance of less than half of one millimetre – but also super-efficient.

“When we installed this piece of equipment it replaced four other machines and is capable of doing all the work they did along with much more.

“Apart from all his other duties, Phil is also responsible for making sure the edger is being used properly and he does it remarkably well.”

Chris Maughan, examinations administrator for the Worshipful Company of Optical Technicians, based at Apothecaries Hall in London, said: “We’d like to congratulate Phil McEvoy on obtaining the Level 4 Diploma, which is the main qualification we offer.

“It’s a very tough academic course and, on average, only about 40 people a year manage to achieve it.”      

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