Fred Foster


TRADE: FITTER AND MACHINIST. Currently DOGMAN on a building site.

Age entered trade - 22 years as a Mature (????) age apprentice!! I studied 4U maths, 3U engineering, 2U physics and english at school. I was apparently destined to become an accountant because of my maths skills but hated sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen for eternity!!

I loved working with my hands and did so as a year 10 student scoring in the top 10% of the state for sewing and metalwork! When I left school, I went to uni as expected and found myself completely bored and had very little interest studying accounting. I did love working with numbers but found accounting to not be what I was expecting so I decided to leave uni and “find myself!”.

Always the tomboy, I worked fulltime at a bakery and studied part time at TAFE doing engineering subjects to get by.

Eventually, after much persistence (!!!!), I was informed of an aptitude test to be held locally through the MTIA in 1997. After rocking up for this exam, I discovered to be surrounded by close to 1200 boys (seriously, these guys were aged 15-18!!!!) doing the same exam. I kept my head down and did my best to be informed later that I had actually scored the highest mark in the Illawarra!!! Stoked with my results, I had expected to have a couple of doors open with opportunities for employment but only 2 companies were interested in talking/offering a position.

Needless to say, the first interview I found daunting as I was asked what my intentions were regarding the men I would be working with, never realised that companies offered a dating service during interviews (????) before this point!!! The second interview was much more beneficial when I was asked what my intentions were regarding employment. Years later, I found out that my attitude during the interview, ie. pointing out that my resume not my sex is what they should be looking at, were what helped make the decision for offering me an apprenticeship!!!

At the end of my 1st year, I had scored top in the year and then also received apprentice of the year down the track!!

Reason for doing trade - I had the training through school, I had the marks to support it and the attitude and persistence to take on any challenge thrown at me. If you love what you do, it definitely helps along the way!

Challenges - Yes, being female is the main challenge but it is mainly the attitudes of co workers. A lot of men in the industry feel threatened but I've found that having a genuine thirst for knowledge makes a lot of guys think twice and actually forget you are female. It is still challenging when you are taken on physical aspects before actual job knowledge.

What makes me proud - Earning my keep, knowing I have completed a job and done it to a level of competence that is required. Also knowing that if something is busted at home, I can fix it!!! If not, it's just another thing to learn!!!

What I do in my spare time - Playing with the dog! Puzzle magazines, crocheting, socializing with friends and family – hanging with Jimmy (my partner). I also used to run pool competitions to keep entertained too!