TAFE Queensland refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice, Natasha Kirchner, has been awarded the coveted Construction Skills Queensland Tradeswomen of the Year at the prestigious National Association of Women (NAWIC) Awards in Brisbane.
Held annually, the NAWIC Awards showcase the achievements of women, men and organisations in the construction industry.
Kirchner is a third-year apprentice and was recognised for her dedication to building a successful career in the HVACR industry and for being a positive role model for other females wanting to pursue a trade career.
Growing up she never considered a trade and instead found herself working in hospitality. Kirchner became unmotivated and unhappy.
“What really inspired me to change my life around and encouraged me to get into this trade was helping my best friend install an air conditioner at his parent’s house. I found myself becoming interested in how everything worked within the system and at the end of the day, I was captivated,” she said.
“I have always been a hands-on learner and love being involved in anything that gets my hands dirty, but never connected this with a trade."
Finding an apprenticeship and breaking into the HVACR industry where females make up only one per cent of the workforce was challenging, she said.
Kirchner was able to secure an apprenticeship with international building services company, Airmaster.
To date her work has involved servicing some of Queensland’s largest government-owned buildings, healthcare and aged care facilities as well as commercial projects.
“In the future I’d really like to complete a dual apprenticeship in electrical, gain more experience on the tools as a dual tradesperson and then later step up into management,” Kirchner said.
Airmaster operations manager, Luke Peressini, said Kirchner has become a valuable asset.
“Her drive and motivation has been there since day one and it continues to increase as her skillset does. I see a very bright future for Natasha within the industry and her growth has no bounds,” Peressini said.
President of National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland, Sheree Taylor said that NAWIC commended Kirchner for following her passion as well as her strong work ethic.
“NAWIC will continue to shine a light onto the fulfilling career opportunities within the industry and attract, support and develop opportunities for women to thrive,” Taylor said.