When Ebony Griffin finished school she knew she wanted a hands-on career, but her mum insisted she should go to uni.

Ebony didn’t like the courses she studied and two years later she finally convinced her mum and enrolled in the Certificate II in Building and Construction Pre-Apprenticeship (Carpentry) at Chisholm.

The 12-week course gave Ebony skills with woodwork and using power tools which she says came in handy when one of the teachers suggested Ebony apply for a joinery apprenticeship. The skills helped her to land the job.

Joinery is the practice of connecting pieces of wood together to create doors, windows, staircases, flooring and more. It’s an intricate process in which different types of joints which are secured by gluing, nailing, or screwing. “I didn’t know about joinery, or even that it existed,” Ebony says. “I gave it a go and here we are years later and it turned out really well.”

Ebony was particularly successful during her apprenticeship, winning two Master Builders of Victoria apprentice awards – Female Apprentice of the Year in 2016 and Joinery Apprentice of the Year in 2018.

At one point during her studies, Ebony left her joinery job and took on a shop fitting apprenticeship. She soon realised she missed joinery, particularly working with solid timber, and returned to her original trade after six months. “I don’t regret it, I learned some things I wouldn’t have and I realised joinery was my true passion. It’s a lot more detailed the work I do, it can be finicky which I really like, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

Ebony says finishing her four year apprenticeship was a fantastic feeling. “You work so hard for that certificate with the silver seal, it’s an amazing effort. Four years hard work and being in a male-dominated environment and persisting through that.”

She says she doesn’t feel she has been treated differently to the men in the workplace. “I have a bit banter with the boys,” she says. “It’s my job, I’m here to work and I like what I do.”

Now working for Aspect Windows in Dandenong, Ebony explains her days involve cleaning up frames, handing casements, awnings and windows and machining sashes readying them for frames. “I personally take a lot of pride in my work, seeing it all come together, getting it right, getting things flush and knowing it will be in someone’s house for 50 years,” she says.

Ebony has also carved out an artistic side business Ebpoxy Pours, creating wooden products like chopping boards or coasters filled with epoxy resin.

So, how does Ebony’s mum feel about her daughter’s career today? “She’s very proud now, she’s constantly asking me to do things around the house,” Ebony says.