WHEN Emma Wattam fell pregnant aged 16, her plans for the future were turned upside down.
She gave up studying for an NVQ and work with horses as she prepared for motherhood.
When her little girl Tayla grew to a toddler, Emma, now 19, struggled to get back into work – until Sheffield Council’s apprentice challenge came to the rescue.
The scheme helped 100 out-of-work youngsters, aged 16 to 18, into apprenticeships last year by part -subsidising wages for employers.
Now the council has joined forces with The Star to get another 100 young people not in education, work or training on to the career ladder.
Emma, of Stocksbridge, enrolled in a pre-employment training course and the council matched her with Mellor Ware, run by Sheffield illustrator Lianne Mellor, which sells chinaware tea sets and items bearing unique watercolour designs.
Before taking on Emma in a business administration apprenticeship, Lianne, 24, designed and created products and managed the business single-handedly from her studio in the city centre’s Workstation.
Emma has helped her to expand and increase her stock output to suppliers such as House of Fraser, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and online retailer Etsy.
Lianne, who founded her firm in 2010, said: “Emma’s official title is business administration apprentice, but she does everything.
“She fires up the kilns, sizes up things for manufacturing, helps with sales calls and planning events – she’s my right-hand woman.
“One of the biggest challenges you face when you’re self-employed is the loneliness.
“If you want to get ideas out it’s difficult, but when you’ve got somebody with you to bounce them off it’s good.”
Emma said: “I always wanted to work and thought it’d be easy to get back into it after I’d had Tayla, but I was wrong.
“It’s hard enough finding a job, but especially one which fits in with childcare hours.
“I’ve learned so much – a lot more than I would have sat behind a desk or in another kind of job. It has been great for me. I don’t think a lot of people know the benefits of being in work and being a mum.”
n For details on the apprentice challenge, call Laura Hayfield on 0114 229 6186.