TRADIE LADY: Shontelle Betzel has taken out the Tafe Queensland Female Trade Student of the Year Award and is encouraging more women to enter a trade.
TRADIE LADY: Shontelle Betzel has taken out the Tafe Queensland Female Trade Student of the Year Award and is encouraging more women to enter a trade. Supplied

Our Whitsunday tradie lady smashing the glass ceiling

A LOCAL apprentice is proving gender is no barrier to success after taking out the TAFE Queensland Female Trade Student of the year award in Townsville last month.

When Shontelle Betzel was going through school, she never once thought of picking up a trade for a career.

The Bowen resident always expected to go to university once she completed year 12, but when the time came to pick a course she was at a loss.

"I really didn't know what I wanted to do, to be honest," Ms Betzel said.

She said she knew of female graduates who had picked up an apprenticeship, and the idea appealed to her.

"I had a lot of conversations with girls I knew had chosen to do a trade and they were really encouraging of the idea," she said.

"I thought, well why not get a qualification and get paid at the same time."

Now a fourth-year apprentice and one of only two females working with rail freight company Aurizon from its Merinda depot location, she says she hasn't looked back.

"I love the job, honestly I do something different every day," Ms Betzel said.

"I'm doing a Certificate IV in Electrical - Rail Signalling, which means I work on the railways, but I'm also able to do so many other areas of electrical work as well."

Teacher Tony Croft with Female Trade Student of the Year Shontelle Betzel and Ron Barker from sponsor Global Welding Supplies.
Teacher Tony Croft with Female Trade Student of the Year Shontelle Betzel and Ron Barker from sponsor Global Welding Supplies. Supplied

Although she works in a role heavily dominated by males, Ms Betzel said it has never stopped her doing her best work.

She believes that as long as you're prepared to put in the hard work, gender should never be a barrier to success.

"I have a really great team at Aurizon who have never treated me differently because of my gender, and I think that's a reflection of where female apprenticeships are going," she said.

"If you can do the job exactly the same then there should be no reason it can't be equal.

"At the Merinda depot, there was another female apprentice who finished up before I started, so I think that might have helped. When I came in, it probably didn't seem as big of a deal because she had already proven that being female didn't matter."

Daniel Waite, Supervisor Control Systems at the Merinda Depot and Ms Betzel's supervisor said she proved that gender was irrelevant when entering the industry.

"She really walks the walk when it comes to demonstrating that gender is not a limiting factor in the rail industry. She is one of the most reliable and hardworking employees in our team and is always willing to lend a hand," he said.

"One of only 2 female employees at our depot, she is always seeking out new skills and is extremely well regarded by all her colleagues."

"She was also a finalist for the Electrical and Refrigeration Apprentice of the year award, so she's really shining in the industry."

Modestly, Ms Betzel said that anyone with the right attitude can also win similar awards, and encouraged more women to enter a trade.

"It's incredibly rewarding and you'll learn something new every day," she said.

"Any girl who is getting ready to leave school and isn't sure what they want to do, I really think they should consider a trade.

"There's definitely going to be more women soon, and I'm happy to be a part of that."


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