Events and conferences

Female fridgie wins apprentice of the year

Refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice Natasha Kirchner has been awarded Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Apprentice of the Year at the third annual TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech Apprentice Awards.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year a small event was held at the TAFE Queensland South Bank campus, with part of the evening live-streamed to a broader audience.

The night recognised 12 apprentices who have shown exceptional achievement in their trade area. They were selected from more than 9,000 apprentices across carpentry, plumbing, electrotechnology, refrigeration and air conditioning, manufacturing and engineering, heavy commercial vehicle, mobile plant and diesel fitting, light automotive, construction and furnishing.

Kirchner, who is 23 and works for Airmaster Australia, says she was surprised to find she had been nominated for the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Apprentice of the Year.

“I’m really excited that I could accomplish something like this, and I’d like to thank Airmaster for the opportunity they have given me,” says Kirchner. “It’s been a great experience so far and I can’t wait to keep going.

“In the future, I’d really like to go up into management. It’s a fair way away but something that I would definitely like to do.”

The TAFE Queensland teachers have been impressed with Kirchner’s enthusiasm and dedication. They noted her extra effort to attend tutorials out of class hours and to strive for perfection.

Kirchner says that being a female in an industry traditionally dominated by males has offered challenges and rewards.

“I haven’t heard of many females in this trade and I was actually the only female in my class,” says Kirchner. “It was a little frightening at first but everyone is quite friendly at TAFE so it was a good experience.”

Airmaster Australia Operations Manager Luke Perissini says that since Kirchner started 12 months ago, she has been fantastic for the company.

“For someone who has only been in the industry for a short time she has shown a great amount of work ethic,” Perissini.

“Typically, we find that most apprentices might take a year or two to find their feet in the industry, but from the moment Natasha came on board with us she has shown passion, eagerness and drive.”

Kirchner has received a $300 gift card from Trade Tools, a Nat’s What I Reckon hoodie and merchandise from FXD Work Wear.

The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Apprentice of the Year award was sponsored by QLeave.

Featured image: The Honourable Di Farmer, Minister of Employment, Small Business, Training and Skills Development presenting the award to Natasha Kirchner.

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