A Bundaberg local, Sharlize used to work in office environments and by all accounts, did well in her work. Being very personable, in a previous sales role Sharlize was also making good commissions, enough to buy herself her first property – a big achievement for someone so young! But it was the great outdoors and being able to ‘move more’ that really appealed to her, she wanted the activity and variety that being a ‘tradie’ could provide.
So, like a growing number of young Australian females, Sharlize closed the door on her office work, deciding to undertake a qualification as a Refrigeration and Airconditioning Mechanic, which she is undertaking as part of an apprenticeship opportunity with Carve Industries in Bundaberg. Signed up by BUSY At Work, an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider, Sharlize is in her first year of the apprenticeship where she is earning money while studying and learning on the job – and she’s loving it!
“Over the past 12 months we have worked on various commercial builds one for Bundaberg Brewed Drinks that I was very proud to be a part of as its such a large-scale site. We assisted with air-conditioning pipe work and drainage as well as the final commissioning phase. Other constructions within the region have included the most recent retirement village stage that incorporated over 135 homes which we installed split ducted units into. We also service and maintain multiple hotels in town and I have had the experience in maintaining the refrigeration system, as well as diagnosing and replacing faulty components. HVAC servicing is also a key component of my training, and I have had experience in chemical cleaning for both wall hung and cassette air conditioning units.”
Sharlize further stated, “The best part about the job is that you are always on your feet and moving so time goes really quick, plus I am always learning new things. I feel that there is so much to learn!”
Six months into her first year, the complete apprenticeship will take Sharlize four years and she will earn more money for each year of her apprenticeship until fully qualified. The average annual wage for a Refrigeration Mechanic is between $75,000 and $95,000, according to Seek.
“At first, finding the strength to lift some outdoor and indoor units and then putting them into place was hard. It’s taken me a while to build the muscles to be able to do that but now I can easily enough. When I first started, I would come home so wrecked, and I needed to go to sleep! Now I come home and I still have energy. It was definitely a big change from office work to actually be doing something during the day. I’m building my fitness now so that’s another big positive!”
When asked what she would say to other women looking to enter a trade, Sharlize stated, “Just do it! If you really want to do it, you’re going to have to reach out and find someone who is willing to take you on – but get out there! There was actually a couple of tradies on some of the sites I’ve worked at who were saying that women work harder than the boys sometimes. Of course, men still have their role because of their strength but you definitely need both, so it’s cool that more women are coming into trades.”
“I definitely want to be a refrigeration mechanic and build my career with that. It will be 110% worth it when I am qualified!”
Carve Industries is recognised as an energy-efficient company who utilises smart technology that is better for the environment, so Sharlize qualified for the new energy apprentice incentive which is assisting her with additional financial support.
Sharlize’s final advice for females entering a non-traditional trade was, “Make sure you get the right fuel to keep your energy levels up! When you work in an office you don’t burn much energy but as a tradie, with all the activity you do, you need to make sure you eat enough good food.”
Maybe not too many meat pies at smoko time! ?
Find out more about BUSY At Work’s support for women entering a non-traditional trade.
Find out more about financial incentives for people entering a new energy apprenticeship.