Female apprentices get their hands dirty

GREASE MONKEYS: Busways’ female mechanics Melinda Crampton, left, and Amber Cook.
GREASE MONKEYS: Busways’ female mechanics Melinda Crampton, left, and Amber Cook. Trevor Veale

TWO dedicated young women are proving they can cut it with the boys as they work to qualify as heavy vehicle mechanics at local Busways' depots.

Neither Melinda Crampton nor Amber Cook see their career choice as anything out of the ordinary.

"I have always been interested in anything to do with how things run," Melinda said.

"Starting as a child watching my father work in the shed (he is a qualified fitter-machinist and enthusiastic welder), to helping a family friend fix tractors, it wasn't a stretch to see myself choosing mechanics as my profession."

Amber, who is finishing the third year of her apprenticeship, had a similar engineering upbringing.

"I was always interested in engines and as a child preferred to play with trucks rather than dolls,"Amber said.

"I love it here with Busways. Everyone is really nice and the more I get to understand engines, the more I enjoy the job."

Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre local industry training consultant Luke Goudge said the pair were the face of changing attitudes in a tradtionally male-dominated industry.

"And there will be more opportunities for other women and men to join the company, with the recruitment process underway for first-year apprentices to start in 2015 at depots on the North Coast, Central Coast and in Western Sydney," Mr Goudge said.

As for the physical challenges of being somewhat smaller than most of the other mechanics, however, both Melinda and Amber say thinking laterally has been the answer.

"We often laugh at the fact that I need a block in order to use the bench grinder or to reach into the top of my toolbox, and for jobs requiring strength, I use hydraulic jacks and hoists, or even call for a helping hand - there's no shame in asking someone for help," Melinda said.

"There will always be people who say you're not good enough, tall enough, strong enough, but you can't listen to them.

"Listen to the people who are cheering you on, and when you make something great of yourself you can hold that up like a trophy in front of everyone.

"If anyone tells you that you cannot do anything, just look them in the eye and tell them 'watch me'."

Topics:  busways coffs harbour

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