Careers & Training

Young mum gets her hands dirty breaking stereotypes

In a traditionally male-dominated industry where females make up only one per cent of the workforce, Emily Smith is looking forward to breaking the mould as she pursues her dream job of becoming a diesel technician. 

At just 22, the young mother-of-two juggled family life and studies as she studied a Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation at TAFE Queensland’s Acacia Ridge campus. 

Smith said that pursuing a career in a male dominated industry was a bit nerve-racking at first but everyone at TAFE Queensland from her teachers to her fellow students have been really supportive. 

“The teachers really try to help you out and pass on as much knowledge as they can. They make a good day go a lot quicker and it was so much fun,” Smith said.

“They don’t try to stand over the top of you just because you’re a female. They ask politely if you want to have a crack at something or not and they are always there if you need help.”

The heavy automotive sector was however, not Smith’s initial career path having previously been enrolled to study beauty therapy at a local hair and beauty college. Smith said that she had been encouraged to pursue a career in beauty by her family who believed girls should work in jobs more suited for females.

“I was just a stay-at-home mum before I signed up to study beauty. Three days before I was meant to start I received an email stating what was required from me,” Smith said.

“My hair had to be tied up in a tight bun and I needed to wear a face full of makeup which included bright red lipstick; I realised then that studying beauty was definitely not the right career choice for me.

“It was my partner who actually noticed how much I enjoyed working on my car and he suggested that I look into studying a short course to see if it was the right career path for me.”

The Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation turned out to be the perfect course for Smith as it’s designed to prepare students for a career in the light and heavy automotive sector by teaching the basic skills and knowledge needed to pursue an automotive or mechanical apprenticeship. 

“It was all very interesting from tyre changes to pulling out engine gear boxes. I’ve definitely gained more skills coming to TAFE than what I thought I would in the 10-week course,” Smith said.

“I think we were all a bit upset when the course ended, it was so much fun.”

The course also included real-world work experience which Smith completed at Brown and Hurley, one of Australia’s leading truck and agricultural dealers where she is now hoping to secure an apprenticeship.

“The work experience that I have completed at Brown and Hurley has been awesome. I absolutely loved it there and I’ve now gone back to do some more work experience whilst I apply for a diesel mechanic apprenticeship with them,” Smith said.

Transitioning from a fulltime stay at home mum to studying and re-entering the workforce has been no easy feat and an accomplishment that Smith is proud of.

“I’d get up at 4.30am every morning and probably didn’t sit down till maybe 10pm. My daughter was even teething at that stage so some days I was up all night with her but I still got up the next morning to come into TAFE.”

Fortunately for Smith she was able to access the Australian Government’s JobTrainer subsidy which provides Fee-Free training for eligible Australians.

“The JobTrainer initiative really gave me the chance to be able to do the course. We can barely afford to pay for fuel, tolls, day care and general bills so it definitely made it a lot easier and was extremely helpful.”

For more information about apprenticeships and trade training, visit or call 1300 308 233 today to see where TAFE can take you.

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