​​​​​​​​​​School-based apprenticesh​​ip puts Australian Apprentice of the Year on path to success

​Gemma Hartwig's earliest recollections are of tinkering away on machinery at the family farm in Dalby. With her uncle, grandfather and great grandfather all working in mechanical trades, becoming a diesel fitter wasn't just a career choice, it was in her blood.


​​Ms Hartwig secured an apprenticeship with a local company and was able to finish school and fast track her career.

"I am not particularly academic and I was ready to leave school at the end of Year 10, but when the opportunity of doing an Australian school-based apprenticeship in diesel fitting came up, I jumped at the chance," she said.

"The school-based apprenticeship allowed me to do something I really loved and begin a qualification all while I finished school.

"In fact, in Year 12 I was happy that I had my career all mapped out while many of my friends were struggling over making career plans and figuring out university preferences.

"Doing the school-based apprenticeship meant I spent about one week a month in my work place and the other three or four weeks going to school. Having that week away doing something hands-on and practical was really beneficial for me and also kept me interested in school. I learnt a lot of really great skills in teamwork, communication and leadership in my first year, which I was able to bring back to the school environment. This led me to becoming College Captain in Year 12.

"Being a female in a male-dominated profession has given me the opportunity to make a difference.

"I am starting my own business called 'She Can' which offers advice and support to women who are thinking about or who have already become an apprentice in a male-dominated profession. I would have found a service like this really valuable when I was doing my apprenticeship."

Gemma's passion for her trade has already netted her some significant wins, including the School-based Apprentice of the Year Award at the 2014 Queensland Training Awards and scooping the coveted Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the 2017 Australian Training Awards​​.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
19 March 2018