Gabby Clift is one of a new generation of apprentices turning heads in the Australian automotive industry

Gabby Clift

At Highfields Mechanical, Gabby Clift is working hard to make the most of the opportunities presented to her as a Certificate III in Light Automotive apprentice under the watchful eye of business director, Craig Baills.
While still in training, her hard work and passion is already paying off – she was announced as Apprentice of the Month in December by MTAQ and has also been nominated for MTAQ’s Apprentice of the Year Award.
“From a very young age I have always been intrigued by mechanical operations. My father is a truck driver and from the age of four I would go to work with him, learning basic skills such as holding the torch in the right position and inflating tyres to later fitting trailer tyres, wiring up electric plugs, replacing suspension bushes and servicing wheel bearings,” Gabby explained.
“He taught me the basics of a car and taught me how to service cars and trucks. I loved going to work with him and learning about trucks and then in my gap year (2017) I held multiple job positions driving tractors, heavy rigid trucks, front-end loaders and other machinery. Whilst holding these positions, I learnt how some of the systems worked and I knew from that point that I really wanted to be a mechanic.
“I am loving my job because I enjoy the physical work as well as fixing problems and I am loving working at Highfields Mechanical. I have been here for a year and I have learnt and accomplished so much in that time.
“In my first year, I started a heavy diesel apprenticeship where I didn’t receive the mentoring and knowledge that is required in the beginning of my trade, which meant that when I moved to work for Craig, I was behind. However, within a few months thanks to the whole team I was getting back on track.
“The guys and gals at Highfields Mechanical are fantastic to work with. We have an awesome team where we work together, pass on knowledge and of course, have a good laugh. I am so grateful for each and every one here.”
While as a female apprentice in a traditionally male-dominated industry many would assume Gabby has run up against some obstacles, she reports this hasn’t been the case for her.

“I haven’t experienced many issues at all. I believe it is because people see my work ethic; I work hard, I give it my all. At the end of the day I am here to do a job the same as everyone else,” she said.
“I think the whole ‘women being in a male dominated industry’ argument is old school. We live in a day and age where it shouldn’t matter what gender we are and where we work. The only thing that should matter is that the job, whatever it may be, is done correctly and efficiently. The way I see it, the student is as good as their mentor.”
For Craig, apprentices like Gabby play a vital role in his business.
“Apprentices are the future of the trade; I see them as my replacements. They will be taking over the keys to a lot of workshops in the future, and with the correct training and mindset, this is beneficial to everyone – the more the business puts in, the more we should get out of them,” explained Craig.
“Gabby has gelled very well with the business and the team. Her enthusiasm and drive, along with that of the other apprentices, encourages us to make sure they are getting the best exposure to all aspects of the trade.
“Having female staff in the business is a great asset in any position of course and having an apprentice tech that is female portrays diversity and opportunity to our customers. At the end of the day though, it was attitude, passion and a drive to work and achieve which were the attributes Gabby was employed on. She fits in as one of the team and pulls her weight day in day out and as we have seen with the MTAQ awards, her work is being recognised outside of our business as well.”
Unsurprisingly, Gabby wants to see more young people considering taking up a trade.  
“I would encourage everyone – male and female – to start a trade if they want to, whether it is mechanical, building, hair dressing, hospitality or whatever – we need more people in the trades,” the 21 year old said.
“Teachers and parents are advising their students to go to university which is great but a lot of these students finish their degree and then cannot find work. There is always work in trades and apprenticeships are so rewarding because you are learning on the job as well as getting paid, which is a huge benefit.
“All that matters is that you do your job because you love it, and you want to strive to do your best. If a man wants to go into hair dressing or beauty therapy it shouldn’t be questioned just the same as if a female wants to be a mechanic or boiler maker or get into cabinet making – just go for it. Let your personality drive you, not your gender.”

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