This article was originally published by Isuzu Trucks.
Trucks provide an invaluable service to regional Australian communities, transporting precious goods to and from remote areas that would otherwise see minimal traffic. Whether that be someone’s online clothing order, seafood from the coast or fresh produce, you’ll always find a truck working hard to get people what they need.
Supporting these operations are young technicians like Courtney Hodgson, who landed an apprenticeship in Mount Gambier Isuzu’s service team.
Inspired by the role that trucks play in communities across her own state of South Australia, Courtney was the first female technician to work at Mount Gambier Isuzu. She has now begun the third year of her apprenticeship and is looking forward to a promising career working with trucks.
We hope that stories like Courtney’s can inspire other young women and young people to follow their aspirations, and encourage discussion about Australia’s current shortage of skilled workers in the automotive industry.
Where did your interest in trucks come from?
I’ve wanted to work with trucks my whole life! My dad was a diesel mechanic, so I grew up watching him work on cars and trucks. I just found it fascinating how everything comes together and how much trucks can do. It was a massive thing for me growing up.
How did you land your apprenticeship?
I applied for an interview with the Motor Trade Association (MTA) of South Australia and Northern Territory. After that interview stage, I had an eight-week training course, and then wrote my resume and applied for jobs.
I’ve lived in Adelaide my whole life, but during the recruitment process I told the MTA that I would be more than willing to go anywhere for work. I was offered an interview down at Mount Gambier Isuzu and got hired really quickly!
Did you run into any roadblocks on your apprenticeship journey?
In the very beginning, I had a hard time convincing my parents that being a truck technician was what I wanted to do. I was completing accelerated programs in high school, so there was an expectation that I would go to the university I was accepted into.
I took a gap year and during that time grew the confidence to say, “I don’t want to go to university, I want to be a truck technician.” And then I began my search for an apprenticeship!
Have your parents grown warmer to your career choice, since then?
Yeah, they have… it didn’t take much. Once they saw how keen and eager I was to do it, and then working on vehicles with Dad… they are quite proud and amazed by it all actually.
Was there some initial apprehension about you being a young woman working in a role like this?
Before my interview, a field officer said to me, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high, you’re very short and small for this job,” … and that tends to be the first thought people have when they see me.
People are wary of me lifting things around the workshop, especially any newer employees, they often skip over me when looking for help to lift things. But once they see me do it once or twice, their opinion changes pretty quickly.
It was a lot earlier on than I thought it would be. My current workshop manager has a personal trainer vibe in the way he taught and guided me through the pressure cooker of starting off. It forced me to have a go, which was stressful, but it progressed my skills quickly very early on.
What are your favourite aspects of the job?
When you diagnose a truck all by yourself and pick up on things that were missed. It’s a nice feeling when you pick up issues that would have become a problem down the road for someone and are recognised for doing a good job on it.
I also love watching my education and skills come together and continuing to learn more about exactly what is going on inside of the truck… it’s more complicated than you expect.
What are your career plans for the future?
I’ll finish off my apprenticeship and wait to see if I get kept on or not!
Either way, I’m going to stick around trucks. I would love to be hired as a fully qualified technician, but I understand it depends on staffing. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll try get a job in the mines as a mechanic and gain more exposure to the industry.
What are three pieces of advice you would give to a young woman like yourself, or a young person looking to get into the automotive industry?
- If you’re keen on it, just go for it
- Don’t be afraid to just try things, or to speak up and say you want to give things a go
- It can be an exhausting job, but you’ve got to push through
It’s important to put your hand up to do things because you might get overlooked as the first choice (especially if you’re female). All it takes is to break through that barrier the first time and prove yourself… and then you will start to change the way people think.