Over the years, AMA Apprenticeship and Traineeship Services has supported thousands of apprentices in Western Australian workplaces, setting them on course to a better and brighter future.
One such apprentice is 35-year-old automotive technician Bridget Bell who stands out, not only because her workplace is overrun by men, but because of her skill, passion and work ethic. Undertaking a four-year apprenticeship at BMW Auto Classic in Victoria Park, Bridget plans to achieve a Certificate III Light Automotive Technology by mid-2020 – and she’s well on her way.
In November 2018, Bridget became the first female automotive technician in WA to be named TAFE’s second-year Apprentice of the Year.
“I had the distinct privilege to stand on stage with nine other men whom I think the world of as very talented and promising technicians,” Bridget says.
“I hope this will inspire other women to achieve their goals in their chosen field.”
Oil changes, air filters and spark plugs didn’t always feature in Bridget’s career plans. It was something she gradually fell into while working as a commentator at the Perth Motorplex. In between calling races during the day, Bridget managed to squeeze in some memorable experiences that further cemented her interest in cars.
“I got to spin spanners with Rapisarda Autosport International and do a transmission with John Zappia’s team,” she recalls.
Bridget then decided to embark on a six-month pre-apprenticeship – and knew she was on the right track from her fourth day into the course.
Happiest when she’s on the workshop floor, Bridget is all praise for the other men and two female apprentices she works with, as well as her employer BMW Auto Classic.
“Auto Classic was gracious enough to allow me into the workshop for one day a week during my pre-apprenticeship.
“In turn, I proved to them that I was capable and responsible. I pretty much just stepped into the role of apprentice even before my qualification came through.”
Bridget explains that while an automotive workshop is a boy’s club, she was mature enough to understand that you had to play by their rules to a degree.
“But the best thing about what I’m doing is that it is helping to diversify the workplace. That needs to happen in action, not just people talking about it. The more people have the courage to step out of their comfort zone, the better it is for the next generation.” ■
AMA Apprenticeship & Traineeship Services provides a broad range of services to support apprentices, trainees and employers, including mentoring and support. If you would like more information on traineeship options for your practice, including employer incentives, please call the team on 1800 808 568. This is a free service funded by the Australian Government.