Female electrician returns to TAFE to train next generation of electricians

Alex Hopkin was nearing the end of a nursing degree when she realised it wasn’t the right fit for her.

Work experience with a local electrician sparked Alex’s desire to recraft her career in a new direction and saw her complete an electrical apprenticeship with Bendigo TAFE, launching her career as a licensed electrician.

Fast forward 13 years, Alex has now returned to Bendigo TAFE as an educator in the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30820), charged with arming the next generation of electricians with skills for success.

(Bendigo TAFE electrical teacher Alex Hopkin)

Reflecting on her journey, Alex said embarking on a trades career was something she discovered by chance.

“With six months to go in my nursing degree, I decided that university was no longer the path I wanted to travel down,” she said.

“While trying to decide my next steps, I looked into the courses that TAFE had to offer. There were a lot of courses I knew were not for me and then I found myself on the apprenticeship pages and from that moment decided I wanted to go into a trade.”

Currently employed as an electrician in the same company that supported her first work experience, Alex said working in and teaching the trade has meant the best of both worlds.

“As an educator at Bendigo TAFE, I love seeing my students succeed in their learning and knowing that I’ve been able to help them do it,” Alex said.

“At the same time, I also love working as an electrician. I love having a job that keeps me moving and thinking about my next step in the process instead of just going through the motions. I also enjoy the challenge of working out the reason for a fault and resolving the issue.”

Alex currently teaches 10 female apprentices within her classes and says there are many opportunities for women thinking of entering the trade.

“When I was leaving school, women in trades was not something that was overly discussed or considered. There weren’t many female electrical apprentices during my time,” she said.

“Now there are so many programs and initiatives where women can test the waters in multiple industries, and I find that a great step forward.”

(Alex with one of her electrical students Linda Johnston)

Her advice for women thinking of a career in trades? Start with work experience.

“Call around and see who will take you on for a week or two, and use this opportunity to see if it is a career you can see yourself in,” Alex said.

“It’s also important to find a company that fits you. A four-year apprenticeship is a long time and you want to spend it loving where you work.” 

(Some of Alex's electrical students at Bendigo TAFE)

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