Apprentice of the Month, December 2019, Gabrielle Clift
Gabrielle Clift is the Apprentice of the Month for December 2019.
The 21-year-old light vehicle apprentice at Highfields Mechanical & Offroad in Highfields near Toowoomba is in her third year of training and has proven to be an outstanding apprentice and employee.
“Gabrielle is an excellent student who achieves very good results in exams and practical assessments,” said Colin Crawford, her MTA Institute trainer. “She is very dedicated to her training and workplace and is an excellent example to other apprentices and tradespeople.”
While Gabrielle is fully committed to her light vehicle training, it isn’t her original apprenticeship. In fact, she began her training as a heavy commercial vehicle apprentice at a diesel mechanical workshop in the major agricultural centre of Moree in northern NSW. It’s an area where diesel, heavy vehicle and agricultural mechanical skills are in demand and, naturally, those were the skills to which Gabrielle found herself drawn.
“It all started with my dad,” she said. “He’s a contractor and a truck driver for his own business and does a lot of mechanical work himself. So, from a very young age I would go to work with him, and I found it all very interesting. It was cool and different. And as a young kid I didn’t mind getting covered in oil and grease!
“After I finished school, I had a gap year and worked on various properties driving a lot of heavy machinery. It was interesting to me to know how it all operated rather than just being an operator, and that’s when I decided to go for an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic.”
However, after 12 months of work of work and training, Gabrielle said things weren’t really working out and she made the move to Highfields, switching to a light vehicle apprenticeship and to training with the MTA Institute.
“It’s true that, originally, light vehicle was not my first pick but, honestly, it has been the best change,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy it. For me, there is just more variety and we do a bit everything at Highfields. From tuning to mechanical servicing to wheel alignments to four-wheel-drives to suspension kits, even the occasional truck – we do it all, and I get to work on everything.”
As a young woman making her way in an industry in which women have been, and still are, under-represented, Gabrielle said that, for her, gender wasn’t an issue.
“I don’t think of it as a male/female thing,” she said. “Obviously it is a male-dominated industry, but I don’t have a problem with that. I know where I am and who I am as a person. I think it is really a personality thing. It’s your personality that drives you, not whether you are male or female. At the end of the day, we are here to do a job and we all have something in common – we love working on cars. It’s the same as if a bloke wants to go into hairdressing or beauty therapy – if they’re passionate about, then go for it!
“It can be daunting for a girl, but all the guys I work with are respectful and kind, more than happy to help and more than happy to ask me for help. We treat each other as equals who are getting the job done.”
While only 21, Gabrielle seems absolutely certain about her future in automotive and can see that the evolving nature of the industry is one to which she will have to adapt.
“I’d like to stay here at Highfields for a long time and gain experience in every field – rebuilding engines and gearboxes, auto electrical, air conditioning, everything,” she said. “And I’d definitely look at auto-electrical training. Nowadays, the mechanical field has gone so far into the electrical area that a firm understanding of auto-electrical, and learning how different manufacturers’ systems work, is very important.”
10 Feb 2020