HVTC apprentice celebrated as role model for women in trades

HVTC Sydney’s Kristy Blacka continues to pave the way for other women to excel in a trade career.

At the 2018 NSW & ACT Group Training Awards, Kristy received a Highly Commended Award in the Apprentice/Trainee of the Year - Woman in Non-Traditional Trade category.

The Bomaderry-local (pictured below at the HVTC Excellence Awards in May) is currently employed full-time at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), where she completed an Engineering Mechanical Trade apprenticeship earlier this year.

Initially working in the child care sector, Kristy reached a turning point in her career in her early thirties when she decided to pursue a lifelong interest in mechanics.

After completing a pre-apprenticeship in automotive repair through Illawarra TAFE’s Nowra Campus with placement at Nowra City Holden once a week, Kristy joined the ANSTO apprenticeship program in 2014 and has never looked back.

“When I left Childcare to start on this journey I had no idea how far I would come and how much I would learn, not only about being a tradesperson but also about myself,” she said.

“I hope, through my journey, to be the visible role model/inspiration I was lacking when I made the change in my career; not only as a female in a non-traditional role but also as a visible member of the LGBTQI community.

“I am so glad for the support that was offered to me by HVTC, ANSTO and TAFE during my time as an apprentice. I have been so lucky to continue on my path with ANSTO and continue to have a great relationship with the HVTC team.”

Now working as a Support Officer within ANSTO’s Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) team, Kristy spends her day triaging master data requests for equipment and maintenance plans across ANSTO’s three sites (Lucas Heights, Camperdown and Clayton).

“Part of my role involves photographing and categorising equipment across site and the experience I gained during my apprenticeship has provided me with a great deal of knowledge to make me more efficient in performing this role,” Kristy said.

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith congratulated Kristy on her award nomination, which she said was a testament to her passion and dedication.

“During her apprenticeship with ANSTO, Kristy consistently performed to a high standard and it is not surprising she was offered a full-time role with them at the end of her training,” she said.

“Kristy is proof that with the right mentality and motivation, you can achieve anything you want to – regardless of your gender. She has become a role model for women in non-traditional trades and it is great to see her giving back to the community by mentoring other women interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“Regardless of whether she wins or not, Kristy should be incredibly proud of her achievements and I have no doubt she will become an integral member of the ANSTO team.”

ANSTO Mechanical Apprentice Manager Lindsay Pursehouse is proud of Kristy’s achievements during and after her apprenticeship.

“The ANSTO Workshop environment is male dominated, but Kristy quickly developed confidence from her teammates in her abilities. She is a quiet achiever, continually demonstrates an aptitude for the trade and is always ready to support the team, even giving of her personal time when required. Kristy has had many negative experiences in her life and it’s a testament to her tenacity that she has overcome these setbacks to achieve on-going success in her career.”

Former HVTC Sydney apprentice Kristy Blacka holding her Apprentice of the Year Award from the 2018 HVTC Excellence Awards