VERTO apprentice Jessica Drady from Nyngan has been announced as a finalist for Apprentice of the Year in the Training Services NSW 2021 People’s Choice Awards.

Employed by Bogan Shire Council, Jessica completed a Certificate III in Carpentry through TAFE last year and has spent the past six years working hard to succeed in a male-dominated industry, with Australian Government statistics revealing only one per cent of the nation’s carpentry workforce is female.

Jessica said she is honoured to be recognised as a finalist in the 2021 People’s Choice Awards.

“I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved over the past few years,” Jessica said.

“I’ve risen to every challenge, from being the only female in a male workforce, being pregnant and having to ‘keep up with the boys’ on building sites, and completing an apprenticeship while supporting two young children.

“I have proved to myself and others that anything is possible when you put your mind to it,” she said.

Jessica grew up on a farm surrounded by three brothers and describes herself as a bit of a ‘tom boy’. As a teenager, she admired the highly skilled trade of carpentry but wasn’t sure if it was possible for a female to have a practical, hands-on career in construction.

“As a teenager, I’d never seen a woman in a trade or on construction sites,” Jessica said.

“I think there are stereotypes about women and trade careers that can be a barrier to female participation in these industries.

“One particular stereotype is that women don’t perform as well as men in traditional trades, but I’m proof that isn’t the case,” she said.

As well as her carpentry career, Jessica is an on-call firefighter for Fire and Rescue NSW and enjoys helping her partner on their farm. She is also taking steps towards starting her own all-female carpentry business – ‘The Pink Chippy’.

VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, congratulated Jessica on being named a finalist and said she was a great example of the benefits of vocational education and training.

“Jessica’s achievements are very well deserved and demonstrate that traineeships and apprenticeships are great avenues to exciting pathways that can set you on your way to your dream career, to one day even owning your own business,” he said.

“Jessica is an outstanding role model for women in trades and we are very proud of her commitment to changing the way the next generation view women in trade careers.”

The Training Services NSW 2021 People’s Choice Award winners will be announced on 9 October 2021, with voting open until 27 September 2021. Vote for Jessica here.

To find out more about VERTO’s apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities visit www.careergate.org.au or phone 1300 483 786.