APPRENTICES: 2177 applicants, 75 positions, 34 from Mackay
AFTER doing a commerce degree and working in retail and childcare Lauren Nguyen decided it was time for something different.
The 34-year-old from West Mackay is among a record number of applicants for apprenticeships at mining and construction support firm Hastings Deering this year.
Her decision to ditch the white collar world for the life of an electrical fitter working on small engines is shared by others in the group.
Hastings Deering said it was swamped by a record 2177 applications for this year's apprentice intake, with just over a third classed as "mature age" applicants.
Ms Nguyen said after studying education and commerce at university she worked in retail and childcare for many years but then helped out an electrician friend and realised her love of fine detail and handicrafts could be applied to the world of electronics.
While raising two children, the idea went on the back burner but the death of her mother compelled her into action.
"I was a stay-at-home mum also working in retail and disability support. My mum wasn't well and the idea of a career change was always there," she said.
"My mum passed away and we put a memorial notice in the paper. As I turned to find it, the first thing I came across was a full page spread about how women belong in trades.
"I thought, OK Mum, I see your point, I'll put that back on the plan".
She is one of nine women in the intake.
Also in the cohort is Adam Campbell who had almost finished his education degree to become a teacher like his parents before deciding he really wanted to secure a diesel fitting apprenticeship.
Hastings Deering's general manager of people Vincent Cosgrove it had deliberately targeted a more diverse range of people for its apprenticeship program which was paying off. When the company opened applications for 75 positions in July last year it had over 1000 applications in the first week alone.
The intake for 2020 is an increase of nearly 30 per cent from last year with the majority coming from Mackay, Brisbane and Rockhampton.
"That number is driven by having good applicants as well as pipeline of work in the regions, particularly central Queensland linked to the resource sector as well as supporting the construction side of the business," Mr Cosgrove said.
"Hastings Deering has always taken a long term view when it comes to its talent pipeline, and apprenticeships are part of that."