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Keeping it in the family

After first coming to Australia from England over 40 years ago, Paul Hayhoe has built a successful mechanical repairs business in Brisbane. Now his daughter Jenna is following in his footsteps, working alongside her dad while she completes her automotive apprenticeship with TAFE Queensland.

While Paul is now a successful small business owner, his travels in Australia started with a much simpler goal in mind.

"I came for the sunshine — because working on cars in England with snow falling on top of you isn't the best situation! So I looked on the map of Australia and I saw the sunshine state and thought 'that looks good for me' and I've been here ever since," Paul said.

Paul's love of cars started from a young age, doing restorations on old cars from the age of 14. Having trained as a mechanic in England, he jumped at the chance to continue his automotive career in Australia. But after several years in the industry, he was ready to take the next step in his career.

"I thought, what's the point of working for somebody else? I might as well work for myself!" he said.

Soon after, an opportunity to take over an existing workshop came up, and Paul and his wife opened P&G Mechanical Repairs in Oxley.

Now Paul's family-run business has become even closer with his daughter Jenna joining the team to complete her automotive apprenticeship.

"He's got a lot of knowledge that he can pass down to me so I'm open ears to anything he can teach me," Jenna said.

When it came time to decide where she would complete her apprenticeship training, the choice for Jenna was easy.

"I decided to go through TAFE Queensland because I'd heard a lot of good things — I had a sibling that had done an apprenticeship through TAFE and he enjoyed it. I think they're great for getting people up to the standard that the industry's at," she said.

TAFE Queensland's flexible training options have also worked well for the small family-run business.

"At the moment I'm doing day sessions through TAFE and that's really beneficial for our workplace because it's just the two of us working here — it really helps that they're flexible and you can do it as a day or a block or whatever suits you and your business," Jenna said.

Over the years Paul has employed a number of apprentices, passing on his years of knowledge and experience to the next generation of mechanics. But he's quick to acknowledge the important role their TAFE training plays in their development.

"If you go it alone with your apprentice they'll only really learn the stuff that you know yourself. If you need to widen that horizon you really need to send them to TAFE because TAFE will teach them the new things, the technologies out there — they might even come and show you a couple of things you don't know about," Paul said.

Looking back on a long and successful career, Paul is just as passionate about the industry today as he was when he first started.

"I come to work every day and its a different day and a different job. You go to work as a mechanic and you could be working on a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari or somebody's old Kia — that's what it's all about," he said.

His advice to budding apprentices is to remember that everyone has to start somewhere.

"We all have to start at the bottom. We all remember our first days at work, and sometimes it's not pleasant, but the longer you go on at work the more pleasant it becomes. Don't be put off the first day that it's not the sort of job for you — it can be if you just stick with it," he said.

As for Jenna, she encourages any girls who prefer practical learning and getting their hands dirty to think outside the box and consider a career in the automotive industry.

"There's definitely some people who wouldn't want a female doing a male's job, but it's 2020 so why not? A girl can do anything a bloke can do just as well!"

Find out how TAFE Queensland can help get your apprentice ready for business.