While choosing her Year 11 and 12 subjects, Thalia Wilkinson was unsure what she should consider as a career after school. But looking into one particular subject led her to an Australian Apprenticeship and countless career options.
“I was interested in a subject called workplace learning that gave students the work experience we’d need once we finished school,” says Thalia.
That helped her discover Australian School-based Apprenticeships and their advantages of training and paid work that could be done alongside her other school studies. With an interest in studying electrical engineering or robotics and automation at university, Thalia decided to try an electrical course through an Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASbA).
In 2014, she was taken on by Collins Electrical, first as a job experience and then as a school-based apprentice. A normal week involved, one day at work, one day at TAFE and the remaining three days attending school. At the end of year 12, Thalia continued with Collins as a full-time electrical apprentice. She continued to work at Collins until they closed down for business in December 2016.
Thalia later completed her Certificate III in Electrotechnology - Electrician, with Dougan Electrical Contacting (DEC Electrical) in August 2018. After completing her apprenticeship, Thalia has pursued further education by undertaking a Bachelor of Technology (Engineering) at Edith Cowan University.
With work that ranges from residential wiring through to identifying the cause of power outages in buildings, Thalia thinks the way an apprenticeship is delivered is essential in her industry.
“The industry is so diverse, you need on- and off-the-job learning to properly learn your trade. Also, at TAFE you hear some classmates are wiring cables at construction sites, others are fixing lifts in hospitals. That helps you work out what you might want to do next.”
Thalia encourages others to consider an apprenticeship. “In an apprenticeship, if things go wrong, there are people to support you. For me it was a case of, ‘Let’s just take that leap forward.’”
In 2015 she won Western Australia’s Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year, was a finalist in the Australian Training Awards and was appointed an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador, as well as a VET Alumni for the Australian Government doing all she can to promote the VET system.
At 18, Thalia already has a Certificate IV in Workplace Health and Safety and in the future hopes to use her electrical qaulification as a basis to study either electronics or mechatronics at University.