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Nikita Fay was named the TAFE at School Automotive and Engineering Student of the Year at the 2020 Cairns Trade Excellence Awards. Currently, only one per cent of the motor mechanic workforce is female — a statistic Nikita hopes will grow.

From a young age, I have always been interested in working on engines and fixing cars, and as I moved into high school my priorities didn't change. However, I didn't know how or what I had to do to start my career in the industry. When I heard about SchoolTech and what it could do for me, it really helped me to understand what path I needed to take to get into the automotive industry. I enrolled in SchoolTech and in Year 11 I studied a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways (MEM20413) and in Year 12 I undertook the Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation (AUR20716).

During my studies, I was given the opportunity to participate in work experience. While there are girls who have become mechanics, my goal is to continue to help break down barriers for females in trade workplaces. The businesses I attended for work experience had never before had a female employee in the workshop. They were worried it may upset the team dynamic, but they gave me a chance because they could see that I was passionate about becoming a mechanic. That experience paid off when I was later offered a school-based apprenticeship in my final year of high school and I began studying a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology (AUR30616).

My TAFE Queensland training has given me the opportunity to learn about light vehicle repair and maintenance, how a workshop runs and what it is like to work in the industry. I have gained experience surrounding how to use a number of machines and tools in a safe way, so that I have the skills necessary to operate as a valued employee.

Being in the workshop has allowed me to put the skills I have learned into practice. It has been great to see how the theory and practical side of my trade work together. It has been an eye-opener to learn how jobs progress from when a customer first drops a vehicle off to be serviced or repaired, to when they finally come back for collection. Thanks to my training and hands-on experience I have the ability to communicate with customers who may have limited mechanical knowledge.

As an apprentice I know I don't know everything and the more experienced members of the team are able to help guide and educate me to improve. When working in a workshop there are many tasks that are completed as a team. I really like working in a team setting because it helps to build my confidence, knowledge and communication skills. Working in a team also helps get the tasks done faster and being there to back each other up gets a better result.

When I'm asked about my training, I have been able to tell people about the new skills I have gained and how this experience has helped me to start my career and set life goals. I really want to have a reputation as a good worker, who can be trusted. I work hard every day and I take pride in completing tasks properly and sticking with a job until it is done. My TAFE Queensland training has given me the knowledge and skills I need in the workplace, and it has also boosted my confidence to continue to build on my learning to become a fully qualified light vehicle mechanic.

 

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