Inspiring Women Recognised in New Women in Manufacturing Apprentice Awards

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water The Honourable Glenn Butcher

Inspiring Women Recognised in New Women in Manufacturing Apprentice Awards

  • Women from regional Queensland recognised
  • Apprentice of the Year announced – Ainsley Downie from Rio Tinto, Gladstone
  • Highly Commended winner announced – Aisha Smith from TEi Services, Townsville
  • Recipients collect $10,000 and $5,000 prizes for tools and training

Two women from regional Queensland have been celebrated as part of the Miles Government’s first Women in Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year Awards.

At a sold-out breakfast in Brisbane, Queensland’s Manufacturing Minister Glenn Butcher announced Central Queensland Rio Tinto apprentice, Ainsley Downie as the 2024 Leading Apprentice of the Year Award, presenting her with a $10,000 prize.

Ms Downie took out the prize for her team-orientated nature, leadership in the workplace and willingness to share her learnings with others.

The Highly Commended winner was Aisha Smith – an apprentice TEi Services in Townsville, who took home $5,000 from sponsor Manufacturing Skills Queensland.

The judges found Ms Smith was an influential and positive contributor to the workplace, and supported her colleagues, creating a positive workplace environment.

The prize money will be used for training, tools, uniforms, safety equipment, or career development courses.

The awardees were up against applicants from across Queensland with leadership and initiative on the factory floor being key factors involved in the judging process.

In addition to these prize winners, finalists include Jess Wilmot from Boyne Smelters in Gladstone and Crystal Ryan from Aurizon in Sarina. The finalists received a $100 voucher from workwear brand, TradeMutt.

The Apprentice of the Year Awards are part of the Women in Manufacturing Strategy which aims to attract, train and retain more women in the manufacturing industry.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Manufacturing, Glenn Butcher:

“I’m really proud to be part of a government that recognises outstanding women apprentices – these women are fantastic role models. These awards are an opportunity to show young women there are career opportunities in manufacturing.

“I couldn’t be more impressed with the winner, Ainsley Downie and all the women nominated.

“They embody the purpose of the Strategy. I’ve said it before – you can’t be what you can’t see. That is why promoting the incredible role women are playing in manufacturing is so important. This is all about working to see more women employed in this industry across Queensland.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Development, Lance McCallum:

“Regional Queensland is the manufacturing powerhouse of the nation and it’s these incredible women who embody the spirit of innovation and resilience that Queenslanders are known for.

“The Miles Government has made it very clear that we’re prioritising getting more women like Ainsley and Aisha into good jobs, and we have a Workforce Strategy blueprint to get it done.

“In the last five years, the number of Queensland women in apprenticeships and traineeships has grown by a whopping 72 per cent, leading to even more women taking up new careers on offer across our state.”

Quotes attributable to Manufacturing Skills Queensland CEO, Rebecca Andrews:

“These awards are a meaningful way to encourage women apprentices to stand up and be courageous in the workplace, to show their leadership skills and to contribute to the culture.

“The Highly Commended Awardee, Aisha Smith is a great example of that courage the leadership that the judges were looking for.

“She has looked after her colleagues by encouraging safe conversations and offering support to those around her. She’s an incredible young woman, and well deserving of this award.”

Quotes attributable to Leading Apprentice of the Year Award recipient, Ainsley Downie:

“I feel so honoured to be part of these Awards. It shows what women can achieve and I would like to continue offering my support to other women considering a trade.

“I’m looking forward to putting the prize money towards some advance study to continue to challenge myself.”

Quotes attributable to Highly Commended Award recipient, Aisha Smith:

“I decided to be a diesel fitter because the work and smells reminded me of my childhood, watching my father and grandfather work on projects.

“I’ve always loved pulling things apart and attempting to put them back together so being a female apprentice in today’s manufacturing world is very exciting. I am keen to explore the latest range of tools and some career development opportunities with my prize money.”

Further Information:

More on the Women in Manufacturing Strategy can be found on the DRDMW website.

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