Growing up Stephanie Peters was a conscientious student who was encouraged to pursue a university pathway in the hope of finding her dream job and building a lifelong career.
Peters went on to study both arts and law subjects at university and even tried her hand at working in an office. But she wasn’t satisfied until she discovered a career in refrigeration and air conditioning.
“In high school it was really drilled into us that university was the only pathway and because of that I didn’t really know what I wanted to,” Peter said.
Peter’s father is a trade qualified boiler maker and her two brothers both completed apprenticeships.
“I thought that a trade might be something that I should look at. It had all the things I wanted; paid study, being outside and the ability to move around. I thought it would be a very different work environment,” Peters said.
“I needed a trade that had heaps of different aspects and air conditioning and refrigeration has all of these things, so I took a shot and have loved it ever since.”
Peters landed a job as the first female apprentice at the Brisbane-based branch of Broadcast Services Australia (BSA).
She joins other women that make up only one per cent of the RAC trade, according to the latest federal government figures from JobOutlook.
“Initially it was a shock being surrounded by males at work, plus they are a bit older than me. That was a mental adjustment,” Peters said.
“But everyone has been so welcoming including the technicians I work with and the guys in my class at TAFE.
“I thought that some of the older guys in the industry might not like the idea of a girl coming in but it was the complete opposite, they were super supportive and helped me with any questions I had or anything I needed to learn.
“It was scary but the rewards have completely removed any doubts I had at the start. I would definitely encourage other women to give it a try.”
BSA HVAC manager for South East Queensland, Tim Edwards, said Peters has excelled in all aspect of her apprenticeship.
“The team at BSA look forward to seeing her continue to kick goals throughout her apprenticeship and grow into the exceptional tradesperson we all know she will become,” Edwards said.
“We are committed to hiring more women in our next round of apprentices.”
Surprisingly, Peters said studying at TAFE Queensland hasn’t been any easier than university but the big difference is the amount of support she has received.
“At TAFE there is a lot more support from teachers, student services and classmates. At university you are in a classroom with 300 people and you can’t put your hand up and say that you don’t understand.”
After completing her apprenticeship, Peters would like to work in the controls side of air conditioning or even move on to engineering.
“I am taking mini steps to feel out what I’d like to eventually do but I definitely want to stay in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning,” she said.