When asked what she wanted to do for a career at school, Yvonne Cadman knew that she was interested in the practical, hands-on side of things. “I’ve always been interested in knowing how things work,” she says. However, she wasn’t exactly sure where that could take her professionally.

“I was initially going to go to university, but I couldn’t justify the costs,” Yvonne states. After completing a pre-trade course, Yvonne’s automotive passion sparked. “I had almost no actual automotive knowledge prior to it and I ended up absolutely loving it.”

Yvonne Cadman with John Harty, owner and operator of Harty Mechanical

Yvonne was drawn to the variety that a career in heavy diesel could offer her. “I get to do a bit of everything – there’s electrical but you’ve also got the mechanical side of things, the hydraulic and pneumatic. It makes you think a lot throughout the day.”

After determining her next step was to put a qualification behind her name, Yvonne started her New Zealand Certificate in Heavy Automotive Engineering (Level 3 and 4) through MITO at Harty Mechanical, where she’s been for over a year.

She explains that learning and working simultaneously makes completing the training much easier. “It’s really easy to work through the theory online because you’ve got it all right there in front of you.” Not only can Yvonne receive support from her workplace in terms of help and access to the tools to get the job done, but her MITO Industry Training Advisor, Michele, isn’t far away to assist. “She’s awesome. If I need help with anything, you can call or text and she’s more than happy to assist.”

As an apprentice heavy diesel mechanic, not only is Yvonne currently employed, but she’s getting paid to learn.

John Harty, diesel mechanic and owner and operator of Harty Mechanical, agrees with Yvonne’s sentiment that there are many perks of learning on-the-job in an apprenticeship. “You get paid while you’re learning, while in university, you pay to learn.”

John says that schools are now pushing trades careers more and more and he can see that reflected in the growing number of apprentices. “We’re starting to pick up more apprentices now. Before, there weren’t a lot of keen students around. Schools were telling them to go to university instead of getting a trade, so the trades were falling behind.”

John says it’s great to see an increase in apprentices. “Simply put, without apprentices, you’re not going to have tradespeople.”

As for what’s in store for Yvonne in the future, she sees herself moving up the career ladder. “I think eventually I’d like to run or help with the running of a business.”

For others looking to get started in the industry? “Don’t give up,” she says, “especially for females.” Yvonne is proof that the automotive industry can offer a very rewarding career for anyone with a knack for figuring out how things work. “Once you take that chance, it’s worth it.”

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