Sweet success for promising teenager

Jenna Unwin, has become a manager of The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop, Church Street at the age of 17. Picture: Andrew Roe
Jenna Unwin, has become a manager of The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop, Church Street at the age of 17. Picture: Andrew Roe
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From Saturday girl, to apprentice, to sweet shop manager and she’s still only 17 - Jenna Unwin is tasting success thanks to work-based learning.

The Rotherham teenager has been running the Whistle Stop Sweet shop on Church Street in Sheffield since it opened five months ago - and now looks after apprentices of her own.

She is one of thousands of youngsters across the region being celebrated as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2015.

The Government says a typical apprentice boosts productivity by more than £10,000-a-year, rising to almost double that in the construction, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Jenna’s rapid rise began when she asked the owners of the Whistle Stop Sweet shop in Rotherham, Kara and Tony Chapman, for a Saturday job when she was 15.

She swiftly went from customer - going in with her mum to buy chocolate nibbles and liquorice torpedoes - to valued member of staff.

She gladly accepted a retail apprenticeship when she left Winterhill secondary school and was heavily involved in plans to open a second shop in Sheffield - before being offered the job of running it.

Jenna, of Scholes, Rotherham, said: “I was the manager from day one and it was scary - but I love it. Business is good and we’re advertising for a second apprentice. My parents are really happy with me, although I think mum’s a bit jealous because she always wanted a job like mine.

“All my friends go to college, or they’re doing nothing. I never dreamed I’d be doing something like this. At school I was shy but Kara brought me out of my shell.

“Now I’d love to manage a big shop or a chain of shops.”

Jenna completed a one-year retail apprenticeship at The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield and is now studying for managerial qualifications.

Last month she won a national apprentice award from skills and workforce development charity People 1st after being nominated by her tutor Jayne Wills. The ceremony was held in The House of Commons.