I am really excited to share our My Trade Story today, as Ashleigh’s story is so unique! I especially love the support that Ashleigh received from her family, very heartwarming. I hope you enjoy Ashleigh’s story as much as I do.
In my teens I used to joke with my dad, that I would just go work with him if I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do after I finished school. Growing up, I loved going to sites with my dad and seeing the houses being built and imagine them being finished.
At 15 I was accepted into Fashion Design at TAFE, to follow my mum and sisters footsteps. However, I wasn’t 100% about it. So I completed year 11 & 12 instead. Throughout the last years of high school I was still keen on fashion and was leaning towards fashion photography.
After year 12, I had a gap year, I ended up doing my cert 3 in childcare and worked six months. During this time I decided that I definitely wanted a career in building. I decided to apply for the diploma of builders registration at TAFE. My mum, who is not only a fashion designer/dressmaker was a registered builder when I was a child. I used to sit at her drawing board drawing my own house plans and imagine one day building them.
I studied my diploma of builder’s registration full time for 2 years. During this time studying I realised the best way for me to gain onsite experience was to get a trade. My dad however wanted me to go into drafting, my argument was the fact that when I come to applying for my builder’s registration that I won’t have any on site experience.
During TAFE holidays, I did work experience with my dad and his carpentry team. It was different. I still remember how much I used to struggle moving timber, planks and trestles. I was so sore and tired when I got home that I would passed out on the couch by 6pm.
At the end of 2010 I had completed my Diploma.
In 2011, at 20 years old, I started my apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery.
My dad took me on like any other employee, I was to complete a 3-month trial before signing up as an apprentice. The training provider was out one day to sign up one of the other boys. I was a part of the initial meeting to find out information about the apprenticeship. She said that If I had already lasted a month that it was likely that I would see it through. So I was signed up that day.
During my apprenticeship, I was faced with some self-doubt, questioning myself if I could do it, I found it hard to be accepted by some of the employees and was often over looked for some tasks. I pulled through it and I was determined to get to the end. In January 2014, I completed my apprenticeship. I was so excited when my trade certificate came in the mail. The feeling that I had done it!
I have now been a qualified carpenter for 3 years. I am still working alongside my dad. I do all the accounts for the business so I am very much involved in the running of the company. I have started to source and quote for the company.
I am currently working towards getting my builders registration. Once a registered builder I want to make use out of my carpentry skills and knowledge, and specialise in new build timber frame construction and 2nd storey renovations. ( WA is still majority double brick with tin/tile roof.) My inspiration comes from American weatherboard homes and Hampton style homes
Being a female tradesman has not been an easy task. Especially working in such a physical demanding trade. I know my limits, I will only carry timber and beams that I know that I can handle, there is no point in hurting myself. I’ve had to prove that I can do it. I have worked hard to get to where I am. Some people are still so shocked to see female trades on site. I always get asked do I enjoy being a carpenter? my answer is always the same, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it.
Thank you for sharing your story, filled with grit and determination Ashleigh. I know I’ll be hearing more about your accomplishments for years to come!
Are you a Women working in any capacity in the construction industry, would you like to share your story? Please email me at [email protected] for more details.