MTA Queensland Igniting the New Wave of Automotive Apprentices

The MTA Queensland is proud to be making a real and tangible impact on increasing the number of young adults entering the automotive industry.

Through the MTA Institute, the largest private provider of automotive apprenticeships and training in Queensland, these automotive courses are student-centric and follow a development pathway into apprenticeships.

Auto Camp, a unique initiative of the MTA Queensland, allows senior school students to enrol in an immersive school holiday program that acts like work experience. Students aged 14-17 years can, over three days, get hands-on experience in a range of different automotive skills, from new technology such as Hybrid/Electric Vehicles to the principles and maintenance of a vehicle. Auto Camp has been running since 2017 with high enrolments each school holidays.

Following on from Auto Camp, we are now seeing students return to enrol in the MTA Institute’s accredited five-week AUR20716 Certificate II in Vocational Preparation Course once they have finished school. Students work in the Sir Jack Brabham Automotive Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art workshop which offers the very best of training environments for the students, and are taught by highly-skilled, industry-backed trainers. On completion of the pre-vocational course, students are prepared to commence an automotive apprenticeship.

February 2019 has seen one of the largest cohorts of students undertaking the Vocational Preparation Course. Most excitingly, this course saw a big increase in female enrolments. The interest from young adults, especially females, is a wonderfully positive swing for an industry that is experiencing severe skills shortages and a massive gender imbalance.

“It’s great to see so many passionate individuals looking to enter the automotive industry by enrolling in Auto Camp while at school, then commencing the Vocational Preparation Course,” said Paul Kulpa, General Manager of Workforce Development.

“This program saw 20 young adults enrol with a third of those being female. The MTA Institute are huge advocates for supporting women in trades and it’s fantastic to see the number of females interested in automotive growing substantially. All the students are putting themselves in an excellent position to secure apprenticeships.”

One of the female students is Jess James, a 28-year-old whose passion for the automotive industry is palpable. She decided to sign up to the Vocational Preparation Course after her partner encouraged her to chase her passion.

“Everybody who knows me, knows I’ve been obsessed with trucks since I was little,” said Jess.

“I want a career and I’ve tried a number of things which I disconnect with very quickly. No matter what I do, I always seem to come back to trucks, so with the encouragement of my partner, I finally decided to chase the dream.

“Ultimately, I want to be a heavy vehicle parts interpreter, but to be a really good parts interpreter you generally have to go through the industry to understand components and their overall function.

“Because I love trucks, that is something I’m more than willing to do and for now, I’m very keen to be a heavy vehicle mechanic.

For someone who is so clearly passionate about the industry, it seems almost shocking that Jess is only entering the trade now, as a mature-aged student. But, for someone who has previously tried to secure an apprenticeship and been knocked back, she shows remarkable resilience.

“I have previously gone for a heavy vehicle apprenticeship and was told the company wouldn’t hire a girl as males can lift more. On another occasion I was turned away because of my age.

“When you talk about the barriers involved in entering a male-dominated industry, it can be quite daunting and for me there were road-blocks I had to cross before I could fully accept that this was what I wanted to do.

“I used to meet a lot of fly-in fly-out guys who worked in heavy vehicle, and every time I spoke to them that spark of excitement would reignite, and I’d almost have to push it down and say to myself ‘calm down, girls don’t go into that industry.’

“It’s good to be past that and working in the industry is now all I want, professionally.

“I hope, that if I prove that I can do this course and do it well, then I can prove that I can do a heavy vehicle apprenticeship”.

The enthusiasm that Jess shows is consistent through the entire cohort.

16-year-old Quinn Durocher and 23-year-old Taleisha Lecourt-Woodcock are two more students who both signed up to the course as a stepping stone into an automotive apprenticeship.

“I’ve loved this course,” said Quinn.

“I know completing this is going to add a lot of value and the trainers have been fantastic, it’s a great course and it’s been so helpful to get skills and knowledge that will help me secure an apprenticeship.”

“I would absolutely recommend this course,” added Taleisha. “We’ve covered such a large amount of content and skill development in such a short amount of time, and it’s all good, even the theory.”

“The trainers are amazing,” continued Jess. “Jeff, our main trainer, is a really good role model as are the other trainers. They are really helpful and if you ask them a question, they will go into specifics and make sure you understand it.” 

“The overarching goal of this course is to help these students secure apprenticeships or viable employment,” said Jeff Mann lead trainer of the Automotive Vocational Preparation Course. “The content we cover is designed to give them fundamental automotive skills in a range of different sectors. As a result, the students have an advantage when looking for apprenticeships.

“The course is a stepping stone into the automotive industry and from a teaching point of view it’s fantastic to have such a mixed group and many females. It’s been great to see the way the class has interacted and worked together which has ultimately created a stronger unit.”

“Working with the other girls has been awesome,” said Jess.

“And working as a mixed team has been even better. I think girls are often more meticulous than guys, so together I think we’re a great team. Guys can lift heavier things and are stronger, but we can double-check everything and ensure nothing has been forgotten. Together it’s a pretty seamless operation.”

5 Apr 2019