Brighouse's The Apprentice winner Harpreet Kaur on starting out, apprenticeships and tips for success

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Brighouse's winner of The Apprentice has spoken out on the value of apprenticeship schemes - saying she wishes those opportunities were available when she was starting her career.

Harpreet Kaur, who won Lord Sugar's £250,000 investment in the latest series of the show, owns Oh So Yum! dessert parlours in Leeds and Huddersfield.

The 30-year-old was inspired by her parents' work ethic growing up; they turned their financial circumstances around after setting up a shop in Brighouse.

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But unsure of what she wanted to do after leaving school, Harpreet chose to study marketing and advertising management at university.

Brighouse's winner of The Apprentice Harpreet KaurBrighouse's winner of The Apprentice Harpreet Kaur
Brighouse's winner of The Apprentice Harpreet Kaur

After getting a full time job at Barclays Bank, she completed her course with the Open University - under a mountain of pressure.

“I was so desperate to get a job," Harpreet said, speaking ahead of the West Yorkshire Apprenticeship Awards.

"I wanted to be in a workplace and get experience under my belt.

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“By the time I was 23, I’d completed my degree and I was a bank manager. I’d never have done that if I’d have just finished university.

“For me, it demonstrates that you need hands-on experience.

"You can do both, but because I didn’t know about apprenticeship routes, I put so much pressure on myself by working full time and studying for a degree full time.

“If I had that opportunity again, I would choose an apprenticeship.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post, in conjunction with the Halifax Courier and Wakefield Express, is searching for the county's best apprentices and star providers in the first West Yorkshire Apprenticeship Awards.

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The Awards recognise the value of apprenticeship schemes in opening up opportunities, tackling social inequality and providing real-life experience - something that Harpreet believes is essential for employers.

She's encouraging her niece to consider the apprenticeship options available and employs an apprentice, who is completing a course in business management.

“It’s been fantastic for her," Harpreet added.

"It’s allowed her progression that I wouldn’t have been able to give her, because I’m short on time and don’t have those tools and resources.

“She gets to work somewhere that she wants to work anyway, get a qualification - and get paid for it.”

Harpreet's tips for success

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When Harpreet was growing up in Birmingham, her dad worked two jobs while her mum worked as a dinner lady, struggling to make ends meet.

Her parents later moved to Brighouse and founded Waring Green Stores on Garden Road, now a thriving convenience store.

"I saw my parents really struggle," Harpreet said.

"They couldn’t find a way out until they got their own business in Brighouse.

“It showed me how you can turn around your financial circumstances by taking control, working for yourself and really putting that effort in.

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“They changed their financial future, they’ve got a couple of properties now and they live a lot more comfortably than they used to.

“That was the signal to me that if you set up your own business, your opportunities are limitless.”

Harpreet founded her dessert parlour and sweet treat delivery service with her sister, Gurvinder, and they boast dessert shops in Huddersfield and the White Rose Shopping Centre in Morley.

“I’m so proud to be based in West Yorkshire," Harpreet added.

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“It’s a tight-knit community and we’re all proud of each other’s successes."

After beating online pyjama shop owner Kathryn Burn to Lord Sugar's investment, Harpreet is planning to expand across the country - and is currently on the lookout for potential premises.

While she said her dessert parlour business isn't "revolutionary", she believes her qualities as a business owner helped her scoop the prize.

Harpreet said: “There isn’t a list of qualities you need to be successful, because everybody is so unique.

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"We all have an individual set of qualities and that’s what makes us different. And that’s also why in business, you can succeed no matter what.

"My business isn’t revolutionary, I didn’t invent desserts. But I believe my unique set of characteristics sets me up for success and that’s why Lord Sugar has invested in me.

“I’m a firm believer that you need to be 100 per cent yourself; work out your strengths and what styles work for you, but also work out your weaknesses and development points so you can actively work on them.

“Self-progression is key. Keep learning and keep doing your research, and you’ll be a step closer than you were yesterday.”