Chelsea Hill is an Apprentice Service Technician at Lookers Group. She is determined to prove her talent in this male dominated area.
Chelsea is 21, single and lives with her Mum. A self-confessed tomboy, her hobbies include airsofting (a cross between paintballing and being in the TA!) and playing Call of Duty on the PS3 (shooting zombies is a particular favourite). In addition to her love of cars (more of that later) she also enjoys riding her motorbike, designing and having tattoos done and drawing Japanese anime cartoons.
Being a mechanic is a tough job – it’s not as physical as it used to be because of advances in workshop equipment but you can’t be chintzy about looking good in overalls or having immaculate nails – the job must come first. But you’ll love it if you are the sort that enjoys fixing things and has a passion for technology.
Maybe you fancy yourself as a diagnostic whizz using amazing technology to problem solve and fix every conceivable mechanical dilemma? Yes there are some aspects that might put some females (and males) off but not Chelsea and young women like her.
In fact, Chelsea is a case study in determination. This is what she told us.
“I knew I wanted to be a mechanic from an early age. I love cars and have had six in the past few years. My first was a Volkswagen Polo and I now have a Mk4 Golf which I have customised by adding alloys and a sound system. I worked with my uncle on weekends at his garage.
“I was always fascinated by how things worked and spent endless hours reading mechanical books and researching online. My uncle took me under his wing, brought me into his garage in Dunsfold and I worked there every Saturday. I was determined to do a mechanical apprenticeship so I sat down one evening with my laptop, the local directory and my phone. I called up every garage local to my area – a total of 47 phone calls, and also applied to nine different companies online. All the garages I phoned laughed at the idea that a girl wanted to become a mechanic. That was three years ago and luckily Colborne Garages (now part of Lookers Group) didn’t laugh – they were the only business to reply and after my interview I got the job.”
Chelsea is currently studying at the National Learning Centre in Milton Keynes – the only girl on her course – and is expected to complete her apprenticeship studies and become a fully qualified mechanic within 6 months.
When asked what she enjoys most about her role, Chelsea replies “It’s the challenge of learning on the job whilst being stretched to learn new things – especially electrics. I also like having a laugh with the other mechanics.”
Chelsea does admit that working in an industry which is male dominated requires extra resources.
“It has challenges. You need to be able to stand up for yourself and work even harder to prove that you are just as good as the other male mechanics.”
As females like Chelsea challenge these masculine ‘norms’ it will become more normal for male apprentices to raise their standards to meet that of the girls. What fun! I’m sorry guys but all the evidence we hear (from Colleges, anecdotally and in 1:1 research) suggests that the really dedicated female apprentices like Chelsea try harder on the garage floor, are less likely to rush a job from A to Z (leaving nuts and parts behind after re-assembly!) and look after their tool kits better. There, we’ve set the cat among the pigeons now and we’d love to be proved wrong…
About Lookers PLC
Lookers believes that any position with them isn’t just a job, it’s a career. Their mission statement ‘Customers for Life’ also extends to staff who they hope will stay with them throughout the duration of their working life.