Janieann Wightwick, 17, is studying for an NVQ level two in hairdressing at Mid-Kent College. Before she left school she worked in a local hair salon for some extra cash, and is now training full-time at the same salon.

"I've always been interested in hairdressing, and I liked the idea of an apprenticeship because it was hands-on; I learn best from watching people.

"I go to college every other Monday afternoon. We have a practical session, and we can bring our own models in if we like. It's a mixed age group, which is fun. The college set us one assignment a month, which is assessed either by them or the owner of the salon.

"The rest of the week, I'm in the salon. I started full-time last July but I'd already done Friday nights and Saturdays for a while before that.

"I should be finished my NVQ in a few weeks' time. You're allowed a year to do it, but lots of people get done sooner.

"Next I plan to take a level three NVQ; I'll stay in the same salon to do it. It's quite a trendy one in Chatham in Kent; we do a lot of colouration, perming, cuts, blow-drying and creative, which is asymmetric cuts or bright colours like blue or pink. One day I'd like to become a manager here, then save up for my own salon.

"My advice if you're thinking about a hairdressing apprenticeship is to get it organised before you leave school. They're quite competitive and it's good to be able to show some experience. Working and studying is tougher than being at school, but if you really want to do something, it's worth it."