5 July 2021
Nothing was going to get in the way of Nyngan’s Jess Drady achieving her dream of becoming a carpenter.
The former TAFE NSW Dubbo student and mother of two overcame relocation, drought, distance and the challenges of being a female in a male-dominated industry to win the Apprentice of the Year award in the recent Regional Training Awards for Western NSW.
Now aged 28, Jess began her apprenticeship six years ago after watching builders at work while helping her brother install floors and carpets on a building project in Orange.
Starting as a mature age apprentice in Orange with a toddler at home, Jess faced a further challenge when she needed to relocate 300km away to Nyngan. She initially struggled to find another employer willing to continue her apprenticeship.
Instead, she began work at Bogan Shire Council. After a year, the Council was able to help her resume her apprenticeship and she carried on with her Certificate III in Carpentry at TAFE NSW Dubbo.
“Council made sure I had access to the type of building I needed to complete my apprenticeship by connecting me with contractors working on Council construction projects,” Jess said.
“It was challenging, and I often felt like the other boys in my class were ahead of me. There were plenty of times when I felt like giving up.”
A second pregnancy and maternity leave added to the long apprenticeship.
With classes 170 kilometres away in Dubbo, Jess managed a four-hour round trip three days a week while completing her studies.
“I wouldn’t have made it through my course without the support of my teacher, who was amazing,” Jess said.
TAFE NSW carpentry teacher Ben McQuillan said Jess’ determination to overcome personal hurdles was inspiring.
“Despite the challenges of being a female in a male dominated industry, relocation, having a baby, and battling drought on her family farm, Jess excelled in her Certificate III in Carpentry and strove to be a leader in her class,” Mr McQuillan said.
“TAFE NSW was able to provide her with the flexibility she needed to complete her studies in a way that suited her personal circumstances.”
Bogan Shire Council Mayor, Ray Donald praised Jess for her commitment to her dream.
“Jess has certainly excelled in this area to win this major award, and on behalf of Bogan Shire Council and all of our residents, I congratulate Jess on her major achievement,” Mayor Donald said.
Now that’s she’s overcome so many challenges to become a ‘tradie’, energetic Jess isn’t going to sit back and take it easy.
“I’ve already started my own carpentry business after work hours,” Jess said.
“The ‘Pink Chippy’ is going really well and I’ve had a lot of support from my local community.”
To find out more about the range of study options available at TAFE NSW including the Certificate III in Carpentry, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or call 131 601.
Media contact: Jenny Tinworth, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0411 443 555.