Carley Attard is the kind of person who doesn’t wait for new opportunities, she creates them.
Carley was working in the deli at Coles when she decided it was time for a change. She had completed a conservation and land management course, but was finding it difficult to find employment without having to relocate.
And so, she began handing out resumes in the industrial area of Bayswater. She happened to walk into Nuform Steel Fabrications – a chance encounter that proved life-changing. “I met with the supervisors and the owner of the company, and I was essentially given a job on the spot and told to start the next day,” says Carley.
At the time, Carley didn’t know what a welder was. She had never seen welding in action. And she had certainly never picked up a power tool. But none of that mattered because she was determined to give it a shot.
Carley worked as a labourer for a year and displayed tremendous initiative and drive during that time. “They don’t just throw you on to a job and say ‘weld’, you have to prove you can do it,” she says. “Often there’s no time in the day to practice because we are so busy, so I’d come in early and practice welding. They really liked that I wanted to be there and wanted the apprenticeship.”
By the time Carley started the Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade at Chisholm, she already had a lot of industry knowledge and experience. “I was already building jobs by myself and working independently,” she says. “I went into school essentially like a second or third year, instead of a first year, which I loved.”
Carley proved to be an outstanding student and was nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.
There were aspects of the course that challenged her, like having to learn about geometric development and how to transfer patterns to steel, but Carley excelled.
“I enjoyed the fact that my teacher really pushed me,” she says. “Because it was on-site training, we pretty much had one-on-one attention with the trainer, which was amazing.”
Carley was signed off in 18 months. She was soon promoted to foreman on-site. “I love it,” she says. “Every day there are new challenges. As well as being on the tools and facing issues with things not fitting or being correct, you also deal with personality differences and the fact that everyone learns differently.”
Carley achieved remarkable results at the Master Builders Victoria 2021 Apprentice of the Year Awards. She won the State Apprentice of the Year award, as well as the Employer Nominated Apprentice of the Year.
When asked what it’s like being a female in a non-traditional trade and having to supervise teams of mostly males, Carley says she has never been treated differently or had issues. “If a female goes into a trade and is treated differently and tiptoed around, it just makes her feel secluded, and that’s not what we want,” she says. “If I make a mistake, I’m told. I’m not treated as something delicate or precious, I’m treated like everyone else. If I can’t lift something or there’s a physical aspect that I can’t do, then I ask for help – just like the teenage apprentice boys who may not be able to lift heavy things either.”
Carley says she is proud of how far she has come and can’t wait to see what the future holds. “I love it, I really do,” she says. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”