Getting dirty hands fixing cars is not the way many 19-year-old women choose to spend their time, but for Caitlin Stephens it’s not only a hobby but also her career.
After finishing high school, Caitlin wasn’t sure what she wanted to do but had spent years helping friends fix cars. She decided to turn her passion into a career, secured an apprenticeship with Macarthur Mercedes Benz and is now in her second year of studying the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology at TAFE NSW Campbelltown.
“I was really nervous when I went for the interview with Macarthur Mercedes Benz, I was offered a one week trial and at the end of the week I knew it’s what I wanted to do,” said Caitlin Stephens.
“I absolutely love 4WDs, I love fixing them and going out on adventures. I bought one not long ago and I’m learning how to fix it up so that I can teach myself more about cars.”
Caitlin is the only female apprentice in her class at TAFE NSW Campbelltown but it’s not something that deters her from succeeding.
“I get along really well with my classmates, I feel just like one of the boys. It can be a challenge working with heavy equipment but I find ways around it; I have gained a lot of muscle!
“I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship, my teacher is fantastic and he explains everything with a lot of depth. At the moment we are learning electrical and how to diagnose problems, at first I found it a bit hard but the support and mentoring I get means I understand it.
“I often have lightbulb moments when I’m at work, and realise what I’m doing is something I learnt in the classroom, it’s really satisfying to know what I learn in class I can apply to the job.”
Caitlin’s parents are also supportive; her mum wanted to be a mechanic but ended up following a different career path.
“My parents are really proud of me and my two younger brothers think it’s cool that their sister is a mechanic. My work is also very supportive, everyone has made me feel welcome and provide help when I needed it.”
Women currently make up only 13 per cent of trade apprentices and trainees in NSW, with most women opting to pursue apprenticeships in female-dominate trades such as hairdressing and beauty therapy.
For women who are considering a career in a trade, Caitlin’s advice is “if you’re thinking about it and you’re passionate about it then just do it.”
To find out more about studying automotive at TAFE NSW visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner, mobile 0412 478 415
 NCVER VOCSTATS, 2011 database