Katie Parry chose to follow her dream of becoming a successful hairdresser and business owner after leaving school. Four years on, she has developed the skills to run her own business, KT’s Salon Ladies & Gents in Bangor, which is so busy that she plans to expand to larger premises early in the new year.

Currently employing a stylist and a trainee, Katie plans to take on an additional two stylists, two trainees and a beautician in the new salon as well as a barber in her existing premises.

Katie, 23, who lives in Bangor, attributes her success to the Foundation Apprenticeships in Hairdressing and Barbering and an Apprenticeship in Barbering that she completed through Busnes@LlandrilloMenai.

She is now seeking a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Hairdressing to further develop her business skills and has been shortlisted for the Apprentice of the Year Award at next month’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, the annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships.

Thirty-four finalists in a dozen categories are in the running for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru which will be presented at a high-profile ceremony at the new International Convention Centre Wales, Newport on 24 October.

The awards showcase the successes of the best learners, employers, tutors and assessors in Wales who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s traineeship and apprenticeship programmes.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru has Openreach, the UK’s digital network business, as its premier sponsor this year. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Keeping busy and focused on her business has helped Katie manage and overcome panic attacks, anxiety and depression. “The Apprenticeship Programme has given me a vast amount of opportunities to help develop my skills and confidence to be able to open my own business,” she said.

“I have been lucky enough to have had training in hair extensions, bridal hair, cutting and colouring by celebrity hairdressers.

“The exciting and fast paced hair industry has given me the opportunity to work for myself and to employ other young people.

“I have shown that, due to sheer hard work and determination, the apprenticeship path into hairdressing can result in a successful and fulfilling career. I am proof that if you follow your dreams, anything is possible.”

Karen Jones, Hair and Beauty Team Leader at Busnes@LlandrilloMenai, said: “Katie has given her heart and soul to the hairdressing industry. She is an ambitious 23-year-old who knows exactly where she wants to be and understands she needs to work hard to achieve this.”

Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, congratulated Katie and all the other shortlisted finalists. “Our Welsh Government’s Apprenticeships and Traineeship programmes are helping increasing numbers of people to gain the skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need,” he said.

“The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of everyone involved in those programmes from our star apprentices and employers, to learning providers and trainees.”

Photos: Katie Parry with her assessor Karen Jones, Hair and Beauty Team Leader at Busnes@LlandrilloMenai.