TAFE NSW graduate and Australian WorldSkills representative Bella Turrise is keen to show young women in her hometown of Queanbeyan the benefits of a trade like hers in the growing smash repair industry.
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The former Queanbeyan resident, who now lives in Western Sydney, is one of the nation's top up-and- coming vehicle refinishers, having this year been named the TAFE NSW Supply Chain and eCommerce Student of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, and Student of the Year.
The TAFE NSW Campbelltown graduate adds the new award titles to her already impressive collection of wins including a place on the Australian Skillaroos Team where she will represent her trade internationally in the next WorldSkills competition.
Bella completed her apprenticeship last year and remembers when she first started, seeing the skilled tradesmen working on a car and thinking "I want to be doing that."
"There's a lot more to it than first appears," she said. But those are the skills I've learned during my apprenticeship at TAFE NSW," she said.
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"This job is an artform, it's soothing and I love working on cars, but I now know those skilled tradesmen were making it look easy."
The award-winning 23-year-old is now working in the $7 billion national industry at Mount Druitt Auto Body Repairs, a member of one of the state's largest vehicle panel repair and paint companies, the industry leading AMA Group.
"I've always been passionate about my work, bringing damaged vehicles back to new and my passion continues to grow," she said.
"I've focused on my work and on developing my skills and now I'd like to put some time into encouraging other young women to consider this as a trade.
"I'd like to head back to my old high school in Queanbeyan to speak with girls about careers in the refinishing trade and hopefully inspire some of them to consider a field they might not have thought about."
TAFE NSW Teacher Carl Tinsley was proud of Bella's achievements and said she was a fitting role model for the automotive spray painting and refinishing sector.
"It's a very technology-heavy industry now. We have ultraviolet primers and use gas-fired infrared which can dry a car's paint in under 10 minutes," he said.
"Also, modern cars are using advanced materials so it's an exciting and high-tech industry to be in.
"For example, modern cars have loads of sensors for safety and parking. There's a lot of skill required to be able to paint over them without interfering with their operation.
"These are the types of skills we teach our apprentices at TAFE NSW, it's leading-edge stuff and it continues to evolve.
"Now is a good time to consider becoming an apprentice with the NSW Government subsidising the cost of training under the free-free apprenticeship initiative."
For more information about becoming a vehicle refinishing apprentice visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131601.
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