KATY Frankcombe admits her mother was not impressed when she told her she was quitting her university studies in radiography to become an apprentice car mechanic.
But the 24-year-old Howrah resident said her mother was now her biggest supporter after she successfully completed a four-year mechanic apprenticeship at Performance Automobiles in Hobart earlier this year.
Ms Frankcombe joins one of Australia’s most exclusive clubs— a fully qualified female mechanic in an industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by men.
Nationally, only four per cent of mechanics are women, according to Auto Skills Australia.
“Like many people my mum’s impression of workshops was people covered in oil and dirt, but the grease monkey is really out-dated now,” she said.
“These days we’re called automotive technicians because we use a lot of technology in our jobs.
“There have been major technology advances over the last 20 years which means workshop and cars are much cleaner and require less physical strength than in the past.”
Nowadays Ms Frankcombe and her male co-workers use laptops connected to on board car computers to run sophisticated diagnostic software to help fix mechanical problems.
She said an interest in IT was essential for today’s mechanic, as was an eye for detail and an ability to adapt to changing car technologies.
At Performance Automobiles Ms Frankcombe works exclusively on the Volvo range which includes the award-winning XC90 luxury SUV.
She said she had no regrets about her decision to swap a career in radiography for the workshop.
“I grew up on a farm and learnt the basics of mechanics from my dad and my brother when they were working on the tractor and cars, so I suppose it’s in my blood.
“I did two years of radiography, but I knew it wasn’t for me when I did my placement at Burnie Hospital.
“Some people might think it’s strange to go from radiography to working under the bonnet of a Volvo, but the principles are similar. Each day I am using technology to diagnose problems, which is really satisfying work.”
Ms Frankcombe’s achievement as a fully qualified mechanic was recognised in October when she was selected as a finalist in the 2016 Tasmanian Training Awards.
“It was nice to be recognised, but I wouldn’t have made the cut without the support and encouragement of management and my colleagues at Performance Automobiles. They’re a special group of people,” she said.
Caption: A passion for information technology and hands-on work saw Katy Frankcombe, 24, of Howrah, find her calling in the automobile industry.