Growing up, Brisbane resident Stephanie Peters was a conscientious student who, like many other academically minded students in their final years of high school, was encouraged to pursue a university pathway in the hope of finding her dream job and building a lifelong career.
“In high school it was really drilled into us that university was the only pathway and because of that I didn’t really know what I wanted to,” said Peters.
After studying both arts and law subjects at university, Peters then tried her hand at working in an office-based environment before debating if she was better suited to a more hands-on career.
Having grown up with her father, a trade qualified boiler maker and two brothers who both completed apprenticeships, Peters soon realised that her dream job may just lay a little closer to home than she originally thought – in a trade career.
“I thought that a trade might be something that I should look at. It had all the things I wanted; paid study, being outside and the ability to move around. I thought it would be a very different work environment,” said Peters.
“I needed a trade that had heaps of different aspects and air conditioning and refrigeration has all of these things, so I took a shot and have loved it ever since.”
Peters was fortunate enough to find a position at Broadcast Services Australia (BSA), a national technical services company. Based at the Brisbane branch, Peters was welcomed as the first female apprentice to be hired by the company in Queensland.
With female air conditioning and refrigeration trades people only representing 1 per cent of the industry’s national workforce, Peters hopes to encourage other women into the industry.
“Initially it was a shock to be completely surrounded by males at work, especially males a little bit older than me. That was an aspect that I needed to mentally adjust to,” said Peters.
“All the guys in my class at TAFE were really nice and welcoming, the same with the technicians I work with. I thought that some of the older guys in the industry might not like the idea of a girl coming in but it was the complete opposite, they were super supportive and helped me with any questions I had or anything I needed to learn.
“It is scary at the start and it was going to be a shock but the rewards I get completely outweigh any doubts I initially had. I would definitely encourage other women to do it and not be scared.”
BSA is extremely pleased with Peters since taking her on as an apprentice. BSA Regional Manager (South East Queensland HVAC) Tim Edwards said that Peters has continued to excel in all aspect of her apprenticeship.
“The team at BSA look forward to seeing Peters continue to kick goals throughout her apprenticeship and grow into the exceptional tradesperson we all know she will be,” said Edwards.
“We are committed to the continual hiring of women into the air conditioning and refrigeration sector and look forward to when we are again commencing the onboarding of new apprentices.”
Having come from a university background Peters explains that studying at TAFE Queensland is no easier than university but the big difference is the amount of support you receive as a student.
“At TAFE you get so much more support from your teachers, student services and also from within the class. At university you’re in a classroom with 300 people and you can’t put your hand up and say that you don’t understand,” said Peters.
“At TAFE you’re in a smaller classroom and you can always ask the teacher to explain and everyone just moves through the training together.”
Peters now plans to enrol in Certificate IV in Engineering and study part-time on top of her apprenticeship.
“The goal is that once I finish my apprenticeship I want to look at pathways either in the controls side of air conditioning or even engineering. I’m taking those mini steps to just feel out what I’d like to do but I definitely want to stay in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.”