TAFE Queensland student and mother-of-four Jennah Wone is a trailblazer. As a female air-conditioning and refrigeration apprentice she represents just 1.5 per cent of the industry’s national workforce.

Cairns-based Jennah works for Recharged Air and Electrical and she said her brother, who is also in the trade, inspired her to become an apprentice.

“I love making things work, whether it be a brand new install or a breakdown, there is always problem solving and fault finding involved which means that I never stop learning,” said Jennah.

“Learning a trade takes hard work and dedication, but you’re gaining a lifelong career,” she said.

“I am lucky that I found something I love and I get paid to do it.”

As the first female student to enrol in a Certificate III in Air-conditioning and Refrigeration at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus in the last five years and a passionate advocate for women in trades, Jennah also wants to break down sterotypes and inspire others.

“I am so keen to complete my trade successfully and to hopefully inspire other women and mothers to give a trade a go, and remove the stigma around females in male-dominated industries,” she said.

“I believe that being a female in a trade is a great thing and I get great feedback from clients."

However juggling work and studies while raising four children has definitely been a learning curve for the 34-year-old apprentice.

“I went from being a stay-at-home parent for eight years to having an empowering feeling of being able to provide a great lifestyle for me and my children and that makes me proud,” said Jennah.

“My children are my biggest cheerleaders and recently something broke at my son’s daycare and his instant response was 'My mum will bring her tools and fix it', my son is three years old!," she continued.

“My advice to other mothers and women is to find something you love and do it; hold your head high, push your comfort zones and own it."

Recently Jennah's dedication to her studies was recognised at the 2018 Trade Excellence Awards when she was named the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus Female Student of the Year.

At 34 Jennah is living proof that it’s never too late to get on the tools.

According to the Australian Government’s National Skills Needs List, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, bricklayer, carpenter, fitter and turner, plumber, telecommunications technician and motor mechanic are just some of the occupations identified as experiencing a national skills shortage.

There are skills gaps in a number of trade areas, so there’s no better time for women or men – at any stage of their working life - to get started in a trade.


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