Tamba Sellen is happy with her head under the bonnet of an ailing vehicle.
Tamba Sellen is happy with her head under the bonnet of an ailing vehicle.

Cranking up trade qualifications

STICKING to a familiar path has paid off for Coolangatta apprentice auto mechanic

Tamba Sellen, who recently received glowing accolades for her hard work.

Ms Sellen's fascination for all moving things makes her naturally suited to her trade, often pulling things apart simply for the challenge of how best to reassemble them.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about Ms Sellen is the fact none of her friends or family are involved in mechanics.

Despite these odds she has embraced her career choice and last month received one of the brightest achievements in the field.

Ms Sellen claimed double honours at the Kingscliff and Murwillumbah TAFE campuses' Awards of Excellence and was credited with Repco Automotive Apprentice First Year Award and overall Automotive Excellence Award.

The 24-year-old said success had been a steep road into a stereotypically testosterone-laden environment, and some employers felt threatened by the change of having a woman in the workshop.

Ms Sellen said she went to almost every garage in Tweed looking for work and was often overlooked because employers would base their opinions on gender.

“It took me ages to get an apprenticeship, and at first I tried to be a diesel mechanic but no one would take me seriously,” she said.

“I worked at Ford for a while but they didn't keep me on because they didn't think I had the strength of a guy.

“The thing is, I do a really good job; I may be small, but there are ways around heavy things and I have the tools.

If other girls are interested in joining the trade they will need to be persistent and patient advised Ms Sellen.

Currently Ms Sellen is in her second year of apprenticeship at Ray Jenkins Motors Tweed Heads South and is in her third year of the auto mechanic course at Murwillumbah TAFE.



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