Gunnedah electrician becomes role model for women in trades

Gunnedah’s Montana Dries is inspiring other young women to consider a trade career after being named HVTC’s Woman in Non-Traditional Trade Apprentice/Trainee of the Year.

The 22-year-old travelled to Newcastle on Friday night to accept her award alongside 14 other winners from across NSW.

Montana said it was great to be recognised and hoped her award would inspire other people to pursue a trade career.

Living in rural NSW and growing up with parents who both worked in a trade, Montana knew she wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“Before selecting the electrical trade I always knew I wanted a hands on career, which led to me completing a certificate II in Engineering in 2012. This showed me the possibilities of what was out there,” she said.

“I’ve always been more hands-on than academic, so I knew that if I wanted to pursue a career in something like engineering down the track, a trade would be the best avenue to help get me there.”

Montana went on to complete a pre-apprenticeship in Electrotechnology in 2014, which helped her secure an apprenticeship with Gunnedah Leather Processers in 2015. She then completed her apprenticeship with HVTC North West and host employer JA Martin Electrical, where she now works full-time as a qualified electrical tradesperson.

Throughout her career, Montana became passionate about empowering women to pursue career paths that they take pride in, even if they are in male dominated industries. She has taken it upon herself to promote the benefits of vocational career pathways to other people, including her relatives and family friends.

“My younger cousin has since enrolled in an electrical pre-apprenticeship program, while my younger brother has recently commenced an apprenticeship,” she said.


“I hope that by sharing my experiences with others, it will promote that it is okay to go outside your comfort zone and that anyone is able to succeed in any trade.”


HVTC CEO Sharon Smith said Montana’s achievements highlight the important role the VET sector plays in the upskilling of Australia’s future workforce.

“The HVTC Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the high calibre of our apprentices, trainees, students and the many host employers we partner with to deliver skills training and employment opportunities across NSW,” she said.

“Montana’s success is proof that vocational pathways can lead to successful careers and I wish her well in her future career endeavours.

“It is great to hear that Montana has already become a role model for other aspiring tradespeople in her local community.

“HVTC is committed to gender equality and breaking down stereotypes that pigeon-hole genders to particular industries. To support this, we recently gained approval from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board to advertise and recruit roles that are only available to women in non-traditional trade applicants.

“These Exemptions will go a long way towards helping both HVTC and our host employers achieve greater diversity in the workforce and ensure that more people like Montana are supported and encouraged in their career ambitions, no matter what they might be.”

 HVTC Woman in Non-Traditional Trade Apprentice of the Year Montana Dries