AT 17-year-old, Joanne Abraham was determined that starting a family wouldn’t hold her back; and now 10 years later, she is a Director for St Helens Chamber.

Due to her dedication, Joanne, now 28, has been announced as Festival of Learning’s Learning for Work Highly Commended Individual, for her exceptional achievements in adult education.

This award recognises those individuals who, through learning, have transformed their own lives and the lives of their families, friends, their communities, and the places they work.

Joanne started a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration following the birth of her child.

She soon progressed to a Level 3 Apprenticeship and qualified as an assessor and teacher.

At 22 Joanne became a Training Adviser with St Helens Chamber, and was made Team Leader two years later. With an ambition to become a senior manager, she continued along the apprenticeship route and began a Level 5 Apprenticeship in Management in 2016.

Now the Director of Training Services, Joanne is responsible for a team of 40 as well as more than 700 apprentices.

She said: “Learning has changed my life! I love my job, and my apprenticeships have given me the skills and knowledge to have a positive impact in the community and make a difference.” Joanne’s manager, Kath Boullen, chief executive of the chamber, said, “Joanne is a remarkable young woman who has grasped every opportunity to learn and develop her career.

“She has progressed rapidly within our business, and now has sole responsibility for a budget in excess of £2million. She is intelligent, fearless and a pleasure to work with!”

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said: “Joanne’s story is incredible. Working her way through Level 2, 3 and 5 apprenticeships to become a company director before the age of 30 highlights how quality training as part of an apprenticeship can support young adults to progress their career.

“We commend Joanne for her passion and perseverance and are sure her example will inspire others to consider the apprenticeship route.

“Festival of Learning is all about inspirational stories of people like Joanne that show that anyone can benefit from learning.

“Lifelong learning is vital for all of us as jobs and society change around us.”