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Young women find their calling in construction

Two career changing Gold Coast women are the first female apprentices to join one of Australia’s most established construction companies in their 50-year history.

By TAFE Queensland

ADCO boasts more than 500 employees including new apprentices Sarah Bowdler and Andrea Ambroggiani who are studying the Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30211) at TAFE Queensland’s Ashmore campus.

After graduating from university with a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 22-year-old Sarah decided a career in building and construction is what she really wanted.

“I always thought criminology was something I wanted to do, but a year after graduating I still wasn’t using my degree and realised it just wasn’t for me,” said Ms Bowdler.

“From a young age I enjoyed building things such as my own bedroom furniture or helping my family with our home renovations. It’s these memories that make me most happy and when I stopped to think about my career I realised that building is where my heart had always been.”

Sarah, who is studying under the State Government's Free TAFE for under 25s funding, said she feels so blessed to have this opportunity to reboot her career.

“I’m still in disbelief and I feel blessed to have a carpentry apprenticeship and even more so having one with ADCO as one of their first female apprentices,” she said.

ADCO are the construction company behind the new $10.5 million training block at TAFE Queensland's Ashmore campus and Sarah was ecstatic when she found out she would be working on the brand new training facility.

“It’s a big achievement to think I helped build the classrooms and building that I'll finish my apprenticeship in, as well as thousands of other students to follow,” she said.

“It’s going to be surreal when I go into TAFE to learn in the building, opposed to building it. I'll be able to look around and know what went into each part, the individual steps, how it all came together and everything that went on.”

The trade training facility offers contemporary, world-class training facilities optimised for construction teaching and learning, providing a vibrant place for students to learn and develop their carpentry and construction skills.

Meanwhile Andrea, 35, is working on an ADCO site in Pimpama and previously spent 10 years in the hospitality industry all over the world before deciding it was time for a career change.

“I spent my childhood building Lego houses and after a thriving hospitality career my passion of building came back to me so I pursued a carpentry apprenticeship,” said Ms Ambroggiani.

“I love the fact I get to work outdoors and I'm getting to know various tools and how to use them properly on a commercial site. I've even bought a few tools of my own and have already done some renovation jobs on my own house.”

“There’s just so much to learn, so many pathways — my goal is to one day climb the ladder to become an amazing supervisor or forewoman,” she said.

ADCO Development Program Coordinator, Scott Wall said the company has sent their apprentices to TAFE Queensland to complete their vocational education training for more than 20 years.

“The quality of training our apprentices receive from TAFE Queensland is outstanding, they have the experience and history to provide effective and holistic training to our apprentices,” said Mr Wall.

ADCO CEO, Neil Harding said he is extremely pleased to have Sarah and Andrea as part of the team and glad that they are progressing well in their apprenticeships.

“ADCO strives to maintain an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and respected regardless of their gender. We proactively work hard alongside industry groups such as National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to ensure our business and the wider construction industry is an attractive career choice for women,” said Mr Harding.