DEDICATION has paid dividends for a young apprentice who was keen to gain first-hand experience working in a business environment.

Ann Birks, 19, of Welfare View, Dodworth, works for Barnsley College as a business administrator.

Having gained a business studies diploma at the college, Ann was in the process of applying for university when she began to have second thoughts.

She explained said: “My tutor was helping me write my personal statement and I began to think about whether I really wanted to go to university.

“I really enjoyed being at college and I was told about the apprenticeship opportunities which were available.

“I knew I wanted to study business and by applying for an apprenticeship, I knew I would be able to have hands-on experience working in an office environment and I would be earning money at the same time.”

For the last 18 months, Ann has been working at the college, in particular helping with the college enrichment programme, Connect, a scheme where students can collect badges for reaching certain goals.

Ann said: “I love being part of Connect because it’s wonderful to see people achieving.

“As an apprentice, I am given the opportunity to join in as well, so I can use the experience I have gained to advise others how they can earn their badge.

“And because I’m young, people seem to appreciate it more.”

Ann’s positive attitude and dedication to her job has brought her a nomination for a Young Champions award.

She said: “I am so proud I’ve been nominated for a Young Champions award because it shows my hard work is paying off.

“People think of apprentices and think of guys who are learning to be a bricklayer or a plumber.

“But there are so many courses available and everyone needs be told about what is out there.”