Have you ever wondered where the garbage trucks and street sweepers go for repairs? City councils have fleets of heavy diesel mechanics, who maintain everything from tractors and tipper trucks to wood chippers, mowers and hedge-trimmers.
Chelsea Dunbar knows the answer - she joined the Brimbank City Council's team when she landed a role as an apprentice heavy diesel mechanic.
The only woman in the workshop
Chelsea has wanted to work as a diesel mechanic on Western Australian mine sites for years. After completing Year 11 last year, she swapped high school for heavy vehicle maintenance.
“Chelsea is our very first female apprentice,” says Marie Piscopo, the Fleet Manager at Brimbank City Council. “It’s a male-dominated industry, so it’s nice to see a female in this industry proving that women can do what men can do.”
Chelsea, who grew up around mechanics, cars and trucks, has had no trouble fitting in.
“She’s progressing very well,” Marie says. “She’s been here almost six months now… She’s always asking, ‘what can I do?’ She loves to be busy and keep hands-on.
“She’s serviced vehicles, and she can change tyres on a truck on her own. You can see her growing and maturing as a person and really finding her feet.”
Earn while you learn in an apprenticeship
Chelsea was supported into her position with Brimbank City Council through the Victorian Apprenticeship Recovery Package, which placed its 300th apprentice in June.
The $9 million Jobs Victoria package supports people aged 15 to 24 into fully funded, 12-month apprenticeships or traineeships with government departments, agencies, and local councils. It opens employment pathways for young people and school-leavers who were seriously impacted by the pandemic.
“With an apprenticeship, you do your TAFE as well, which is probably the best part about it. You have a mixture of different ways to learn – you’ve got your hands-on practical, and then you’ve got your classroom-based learning,” Chelsea says.
Opening doors with a trade
Marie says apprenticeships are a valuable alternative for kids.
“Get a trade behind you. It doesn’t mean you have to work in this trade when you’ve finished, but at least you’ve got a trade, and it could lead you to something else that relates to that trade.”