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In ten short years, Amber Brockie has come full circle, from student to teacher. After leaving her desk job to pursue a trade career she quickly went on to work with a master craftsman and then start her own business before deciding to share her skills and experience with others as a teacher at TAFE Queensland's Acacia Ridge campus.

"My trade career came about through taking a gamble on a pre-vocational course in cabinet making in my early 20’s," Amber said.

"I'd graduated from a science degree and worked as a consultant for less than a year before I realised that an office job wasn't for me. A TAFE brochure in my mailbox tweaked my curiosity and I quickly found myself immersed in learning and work that I loved," she said.

Once Amber had found her passion, it wasn't long before her career took off.

"I completed my trade training and worked with a master craftsman before entering into a business partnership producing bespoke timber furniture and luxury small boat interiors," she said.

The business thrived, but when Amber decided to start a family, her priorities changed and she no longer wanted to keep living for the business alone. The invitation to start in the teaching team at the new TAFE Queensland trade campus at Acacia Ridge came at the perfect time.

Juggling her career and her family wasn't the only challenge Amber faced. Being a female in a male-dominated industry hasn't always been an easy path to tread.

"I started my trade journey at the beginning of a new century and experienced both prejudice and admiration in workplaces and training environments. Realisation of my trade qualification is in no small part due to those handful of people who saw past my gender and shared their passion for their trade," Amber said.

"I struggled to reconcile being a feminine female in a male-dominated industry and have learned that finding who I really am and being that person was a difficult road. The doubt of others can be a motivator to do better but this has to be paired with a good amount of self-belief," she said.

Despite the challenges, Amber is hopeful that people like herself can make a change in the industry for the better.

"As a TAFE teacher I instruct another generation of 'tradies' as they begin their trade training journey. My approachable, enthusiastic presence in the training environment signals the possibilities for female students to achieve their trade qualification, and the potential for them to eventually bring their expertise and experience into educating and guiding the trade sector females of the future," she said.

While it's clear that Amber is at home building and creating beautiful things, she's just as talented in building and shaping the minds and lives of her students.

"I find the technical trade environment is exciting, full of people who are problem solvers and doers. I work with some remarkable people who have illuminated the value of a great teacher, and daily inspire me to be better," Amber said.

"I love the challenges of working with young minds making sense of their world, and working with those more mature to encourage them in following their own road.

"I teach to challenge thinking and to build new knowledge and skills – for my students and for myself. I learn from my students too, from the questions they ask me and from the insights they share," she said.

Amber's advice for others looking to get into a trade career is to do it for the right reason.

"Entering a trade to prove yourself to others is likely to be exhausting as there will be those whose standards will change so that you can never meet them. Enter a trade because you are curious, because you are a maker, a problem solver, because you are careful and because you are adventurous and you find joy in what you do," she said.


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