iwd_squareShelley’s bold change pays off


Just 12 months ago, Shelley Higgins was enrolled in an Engineering degree at university and trying to make ends meet by working part time in the retail industry.

After realising she wasn’t passionate about her subject choice, she took a brave step and deferred uni to enrol in a multi-trade, pre-apprenticeship course at the HVTC Skills Centre in the Hunter Valley.

The 18 week program was designed to give participants the opportunity to try first-hand the type of work involved in the Building and Construction, Engineering Mechanical and Fabrication, and Electrical trades.

In no time at all, twenty two year old Shelley realised that working in the electrical trade was what really appealed to her.

“It had never even occurred to me to follow an electrical career path. I enjoyed studying maths and physics but I always thought I’d pursue a career in the mechanical field.

“I moved to Newcastle from Narrabri straight out of high school and tried the university route, studying engineering, but after two years decided it wasn’t for me. I was looking for a more practical, hands-on learning environment,” said Shelley.

After a mixture of classroom training, workshop projects, site visits, trade skill and knowledge training, participants were sent on work placement with local businesses.

Shelley’s talent was spotted by HVTC Field Officer, Karen Eveleigh, who then recommended her for a full electrical apprenticeship.

“The experience Shelley gained in the pre-apprenticeship program, together with her determination and passion for this trade, has seen her successfully gain a sought after electrical apprenticeship employed by HVTC Hunter and hosted to Origin Energy.

“Shelley is really enjoying this opportunity and is earning money whilst learning a trade. She is determined to excel in her apprenticeship which is always rewarding to see,” said Karen.

Every day holds a new challenge, different task and learning opportunity for Shelley who, after taking a bold leap and switching from uni to an apprenticeship, couldn’t be happier.

“I love learning something new every day, and the fact that the work I am doing is relevant and will always be needed. I enjoy knowing how things operate so the hands-on work keeps me motivated,” she said.

“I’ve always tried to be willing and open to learn and work hard to get to a point where I can excel at anything I set out to do. I’ve found that’s how you gain respect in any field, regardless of your gender.”

International Women’s Day is on Wednesday March 8. This year’s theme is Be Bold For Change.


Shelley during her pre-apprenticeship course