A BASINGSTOKE mum has swapped an office job for her dream career thanks to an apprenticeship.

Aimee Hillan became stuck in a cycle of office jobs after she left college.

She said: “You leave school and are left to pick a career, and I thought ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ and I think a lot of people at that age are the same. I went to college and fell into business management but I hated it.”

Aimee then considered training as a hairdresser, but an apprenticeship fell through at the last minute forcing her to find alternative work because all the other positions had already been taken.

The 33-year-old said: “Once I earned a certain amount of money, I couldn’t afford a drop to an apprenticeship wage so thought it was completely out of reach to me. It closed that door for me.”

Aimee went on to have two children, working part-time hours, and when they had both started school she had more time on her hands.

She realised that working full-time as an apprentice she would earn the same as the part-time hours she had been working, and so could finally afford to make the move, signing up to a level 2 apprenticeship through Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) with Bombshell Hair and Beauty in Rooksdown.

“I found that apprenticeships are open to older people, not just 16 to 18-year-olds,” she said, adding: “I love it. I have always wanted to do hairdressing so being able to train and not being too old to do it is great.”

Aimee, from Oakridge, also discovered that after her first year earning the minimum wage as an apprentice, in the second year her salary increased to the minimum wage for her age, which is more than twice the amount.

Her hours suit her responsibilities as a mother-of-two, particularly as one of her working days is a Saturday, meaning her husband can look after the children while she works.

She said: “I honestly believed apprenticeships were for younger people but they aren’t. You are earning whilst learning for those who need some sort of income it’s brilliant.”

Aimee said BCoT has been brilliant in supporting her, although she was apprehensive about working in the salon at the college alongside teenagers.

“I thought this is going to be awful, it’s full of giggling 16 and 17-year-olds and I’m older and past all that. But actually it’s only reinforced that I’m just there to learn, they can do what they want, I’m there to learn and take on board what I need to and it’s only one day a week.”

Aimee hopes once she is fully qualified, her new career will work perfectly around being a mum. adding: “It’s something that once I am qualified I can do any time of the day, any day of the week, anywhere in the world because it’s so universal, everyone needs a haircut. It’s brilliant I’ve been able to get a career for myself when I thought I would be stuck in an office for evermore.”