Thalia Wilkinson won WA School-based Apprentice of the Year 2015. While still at school, Thalia was interested in a career in electrical engineering and robotics so she chose to do a school-based apprenticeship with a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician to kick start her path in the electrical field.
“It made sense to me to do an Electrical Apprenticeship because not only does it provide many opportunities career wise but we use it every day. Not only would it help me personally doing simple maintenance around the house but it would allow me to travel and find a job anywhere I went.”
For Thalia, the benefits of starting her apprenticeship while still at school were not just the industry knowledge and experience she gained, but how it prepared her for full time work and allowed her to slowly build her knowledge and understanding of the workplace before leaving school.
“My school-based apprenticeship allowed me to prepare for my role for when I went full time by allowing me to experience small amounts of what would be required on a day to day basis over time. One day I would learn about the strenuous activity of fault finding, the next I would be spending most of my day filling in paperwork and after that cleaning and maintaining the electrical work in a community building. There is a lot to learn especially in an industry that is so diverse, so being able to learn a little bit each time helped me a lot and ensured I was prepared when I continued my apprenticeship full time.”
Thalia finished school at the end of 2015 and gained a full time apprenticeship with her employer Collins Electrical. She is loving what she’s doing and feeling more and more able to take on tasks independently.
“Being an apprentice full time compared to a part time school-based apprentice is very different. I have gained more on the job experience, been given more tasks to complete by myself and in a team and I do generally feel more a part of the company now that I am there full time. The only down side I can say is having to get up early five days a week but that is something I can easily overcome (with time).”
Thalia is the only female electrician in her team. While it’s not always easy, she won’t let that stand in the way of achieving her goals.
“Being a female in a male dominated area is a challenging issue I face every day. However these are the things I take in my stride. I can’t wait to see the day where gender is not an issue in this line of work as I would prefer to receive compliments for the quality of my work and not for my gender.”
Thalia encourages more female students to take up the challenge and go for their dreams, regardless of the gender history of their chosen industry.
“Nothing should hold you back from doing something that you want to try out or enjoy and there should be no reason why females shouldn’t get into traditionally male dominated roles.”
If you’d like to know more about school-based apprenticeships, traineeships or VET in Schools programs, visit the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s School students page or talk to your school’s VET Coordinator