Bethany Jones makes Mid North proud

PATHWAY: Bethany Jones, left, forged a pathway to future employment with help from Clare-based economic development officer Lynn Wallace who organised the heavy industry and trade skills course.
PATHWAY: Bethany Jones, left, forged a pathway to future employment with help from Clare-based economic development officer Lynn Wallace who organised the heavy industry and trade skills course.

Burra's Bethany Jones has been a trailblazer for women in a heavy industry and trade skills course.

She was the only woman among 15 trainees in the scheme run by Clare-based Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North.

When the group graduated at a ceremony at the Function Centre at Memorial Oval in Port Pirie, Bethany was one of three participants who spoke to the crowd of about 50.

"It has been pretty awesome," she said.

She said she "felt like one of the blokes" wearing her orange overalls to the training sessions at Port Pirie's TAFE college.

Earlier, she told The Flinders News that she was now better at welding and had gained many new skills.

"I am training to be a diesel mechanic or light vehicle mechanic," she said.

"I hope to gain an apprenticeship at Carapateena with OZ Minerals, so fingers crossed."

Working in the outback at a mine holds no fears for her and in fact she would make it her "home".

"I love touring Australia. I am better in rural Australia than the cities," she said.

Program organiser Lynn Wallace, of RDA Yorke and Mid North, said that after the 20-week course, the trainees were "ready for the world".

She said eight full-time jobs had been achieved as a result of the program. These included positions of electrical apprentice, laborers and concreters.

This stemmed from 64 job applications by the trainees.

Dylan Knight, 23, of Port Pirie, became a general laborer with course sponsor McMahon Services.

"I have been there a month. It is going very well. I am having a lot of fun and learning lots of stuff," he said.

"The course was great ... it developed my skills."

Jakoba Heinrich, 20, of Port Pirie, hopes to win a position as an apprentice boilermaker.

He said he had gained some "tickets" as a result of the training.

"We learned skills that we will have all our lives," he said.

"The course helped me gain confidence and get a routine."

Alexander James told the crowd that the course had led him to a electrical apprenticeship.

"It is a great way to get a foot in the door with the local employers," he said.

Industry mentor and retired 44-year Nyrstar smelter tradesman "Spanner" Combe encouraged the trainees to develop a good handshake and "eye contact".

"I was the crusty old uncle to the group," he said.

"I can guarantee we will never ever forget each other.

"Well done to the parents and grandparents for bringing up some terrific kids - we really didn't have to shave off any rough edges."

Federal government employment facilitator Lisa Brock said resources company OZ Minerals had contributed $15,000 toward the program.

She said the idea for the scheme had originated a decade ago.

Chief executive officer of RDA Yorke and Mid North Kelly-Anne Saffin said she was proud of her organisation and the "incredible work" of Ms Brock.

The course provided insights into four areas - engineering, electrical and renewables, construction and civil and mining.

Ten of the graduates were at the ceremony while others were working or unable to attend.

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