Meet Emma Waine

Emma Waine Apprentice at Grosvenor
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HVAC Apprentice at Grosvenor Engineering Group

Emma Waine has always wanted to learn a trade. After showing great initiative and reaching out directly to GEG, she’s now thriving in her second year.

What made you want to pursue a trade?

“I was working in disability support and education services for around 13 years, but I’ve always been interested in how things work,” says Emma. “ I’ve always wanted to get into a trade… it’s just taken me eight years to actually get one, which was great when I did.”

How did you start working with Grosvenor Engineering Group (GEG)?

“I started my Certificate II in Engineering with a six-month airconditioning night course, just so I could have a leg in to try and get help to secure an apprenticeship.

“So then I was quite lucky with Grosvenor, I emailed HR just asking if they had any idea how to get an apprenticeship through them, and now I’m a second-year apprentice.”

Is there a ‘typical day’ in the life of a GEG apprentice?

“I’m at TAFE once a week, and then the other four days I spend with a tradie. I’m getting to be more on the tools now – the tradies are trusting me a bit more – but they’re always eager to teach me how to use the tools better, so I don’t hurt myself. They’re very concerned with my safety, so I go home safe. They’re just a great bunch of people, really. They help, they encourage, I get to learn… I’ve learnt a lot from the construction side of things, too.

“I particularly like electrical fault-finding, and more of those types of jobs where I can think outside the box of how things are working, and what can be wrong.”

How do you think the industry is changing to become more inclusive?

“People don’t really normally see females out there, so they’re a bit shocked sometimes, but they’re all right, they come around! Because I’ve had such a big background in people skills – and how to communicate with people – that has helped.

“Some people do say ‘tradesperson’ or ‘tradeswoman’… at TAFE, the teacher will sometimes say ‘guys’ or ‘fellers’. But that doesn’t bother me as much – it’s just a term, I suppose. As long as they treat me the same as the male apprentices, it’s all right. I don’t mind.

“I’m just there to learn the trade, to better my skills and have a better future – and for my daughter to see that you can do whatever you want to do. Just to say that she can go into a trade if she wants to… that’s more for the younger generation coming through.”

What do you think might encourage more women to take up a trade?

“I think it’s just about education – when we were growing up and going through school, all the boys were more directed to do the woodwork or trade-type classes, whereas we were more about hospitality, sewing or home economics.

“So I think just knowing that women can go and do it, and instead of just having a family, you can still have a career. Especially if it’s like Grosvenor – they’re very family-based, and they balance home life, where you can still learn and have your family as well.

“My daughter is 10-and-a-half, which is good because I can teach her a few skills that I get from the job and, you know, if our lawn mower’s broken we can fix it. Or I can teach her stuff that would normally be a ‘male’ job around the house, I suppose.”

Any advice for women looking to get into the industry?

“Just keep positive and keep motivated. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You might have to take two steps back to get one step closer, but if you have a goal, you’ve got to keep going with it.

“It’d be great to get more females in… Because we have small hands! I always say to the tradies, we’ve got small hands and I can fit in roofs better because I’m small!”

Where would you like to go next in your career?

“I’d like to do my electrical part in the trade after this one, like a dual apprenticeship, and also try to get into Building Management Systems (BMS) – so the computer side of things – so I’d have a whole range of knowledge.

“I’ve already worked with a couple electricians at GEG this past year just helping them when they don’t have an apprentice available. I sat in with one of the BMS guys and had a look at what he was doing… At GEG, they’re very good about helping me to expand my skills.”