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Electrical scholarships help Kasey’s career move

/ Success Story
At 34, single mum Kasey Smith isn’t afraid to try for a major career turnaround in a traditionally male-dominated field.

The former high school teacher is now studying South West TAFE’s pre-apprenticeship electrical course and her prospects have been boosted by winning two scholarships.

Kasey has won a $1500 Powercor scholarship just weeks after receiving a South West TAFE – Portland Aluminium Women in Trades award for equipment up to $1500.

The new scholarship is easing her childcare fee burden as Kasey pursues her dream job.

“I’m a single parent with three kids so the scholarships are a huge help with childcare and anything I have left over I can use for personal protective equipment or course fees,” she said.

Kasey’s three boys, one just started primary school, one in kinder and one in childcare, are impressed with her career change and her practical skills.

“I just made a stud bracket and my oldest son thinks it’s the bee’s knees,” Kasey said.

While she has been interested in the electrical field for years, Kasey was originally reluctant to pursue her dream and instead became a secondary teacher and taught physical education, outdoor education and humanities for three years. 

“After I had kids, I really wanted to try something different,” she said. “I don’t think I would have had the maturity level at 18 to try electrical but now I feel I’m better prepared.

“I like to know how things work. I’m really practical and like the manual labour aspect of it. I’m interested in building but with electrical it’s more about problem solving and maths and more of a challenge.”

Mid-way through six-month pre-apprenticeship course, Kasey says it is living up to expectations.

“I love it,” she said. “The teachers are great and everyone is so helpful, including industry reps who come in every week to talk to us.”

Kasey is one of only two females in the course, alongside about 10 males. The other female student, Rosetta Pungton, has also won a $1500 Powercor scholarship which she will use to purchase tools.

It took 12 months of planning for Kasey to start the pre-apprenticeship course, including organising services for two of her children who have disabilities. “Having the scholarships, means I can keep doing this and look for work,” she said.

“It’s good to encourage more women to do a trade,” Kasey said. “There is an acknowledgement that it can be more intimidating but I don’t find it that way, although I have found some people are still less receptive to a female apprentice.”

Getting an apprenticeship is Kasey’s ultimate goal. “Now I want to apply what I’ve learnt in different situations in the real world,” she said.

She has no regrets about making a life-changing move. “If it’s something you want to do, why not jump in and do it?” she said. “I think it’s a good example to set for my kids; you don’t have to be doing the same thing for your whole life and you can chase your dream.”

Powercor Apprentice Program Coordinator, Steven McConnell, said Powercor was proud to present these scholarships, which have so far have helped kick start electrical trades careers for 15 women across Western Victoria.

“Well done to Kasey for taking the plunge and trying something so different, it speaks volumes of her character and we’re very excited to be able to support her,” he said.