Landing the perfect job
Rach Brooker is in a league of her own. As a qualified female diesel fitter, she represents just one per cent of her industry's national workforce. Rach loves her job and is encouraging more girls and women to pursue the trade.
Rach grew up in Weipa and some of her earliest memories are of motorsport and tinkering with her mechanic father.
"I've always been someone who can't sit still. I have to be doing something hands-on. For me, being a diesel fitter is the perfect job. I'm never bored, it's great. I love pulling stuff apart and putting stuff back together. It's great fun to learn about mechanics. I can go out and fix my own car and not have to pay somebody else to do it. I know all of that stuff myself."
Rach began her career early while she was still in high school, undertaking a school-based traineeship.
"When I said to my parents that this is what I was doing, they were a bit concerned at first because I was going to miss a day of school a week. But it worked out really well for me because it got me a foot in the door for my apprenticeship."
"I actually didn't have to do so much of my first year at TAFE, because I'd already done some of the subjects in my traineeship. It really helped me know what I wanted to do because if I had done the traineeship and I hadn't liked it, I wouldn't have gone through and done an apprenticeship."
Rach completed a Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade (MEM30205) via block training at the Cairns campus. Her dedication to her studies and industry area earned her two TAFE Queensland Cairns Trade Excellence Awards. Rach was named the Automotive and Engineering Mechanical Apprentice of the Year and Female Trade Student of the Year.
Today, Rach is a fully qualified diesel fitter working for Rio Tinto. She said her time at TAFE Queensland prepared her for the workforce.
"When I'm out in the field or in the workshop, I apply so much that I learned at TAFE. All the additional information I got from my teachers about their stories and their industry experiences, I can also relate it back to what I do at work. It's really helpful."
Rach, 21, said there are a lot of opportunities for people with trade skills.
"You can go anywhere you want. You can go overseas or you could go around Australia. You could even start your own business or climb up the ladder and go into management. There are so many different avenues you can take in a trade career that a lot of people don't even realise. For me, I've got big plans to one day go to Canada and work."
According to Australian labour market data, just one per cent of automotive and engineering trades workers are women. While apprenticeships are more popular among men, Rach said girls and women should absolutely pick the pathway.
"If someone was looking to start a trade or wasn't sure if they wanted to go forward with that kind of a career path, I'd just say just go for it. A lot of people think, 'Oh, it's so scary to try and get an apprenticeship' but once you get it, it's all sweet from there."
"Being an apprentice was great because I was earning money as I was learning my job. It was a good four years of my life. If I could go back and do it again, I would."
Rach completed her trade qualification for free through the Queensland Government's free apprenticeships for under 25s program. The initiative provides eligible Queenslanders up to the age of 25 access to fully subsidised training across a range of priority apprenticeship or traineeship qualifications. Learn more about free apprenticeships for under 25s.
Watch Rach's story