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Women in Auto Trades program encourages female mechanics

Graduates of the Women in Auto Trades program have started their careers as automotive mechanics.

Women in Auto Trades program seeks to address gender imbalance in industry.

Nine women have graduated from the Women in Auto Trades program at Sydney TAFE, Ultimo on Friday, taking the first step along the path to a career as an automotive mechanic.

The program, spearheaded by Auto Skills Australia and sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia, sets out to address the gender imbalance in the automotive industry.

In the mechanical trades currently, men outnumber women 113 to 1.

FCA Australia's involvement in the program is part of the legacy of former CEO Veronica Johns. Ms Johns was the first Australian woman to head a car company, and took a hands-on approach toward the treatment of women in the auto industry and was known for tearing down posters of naked women during showroom visits.

"We couldn’t be prouder to be involved in this important initiative. My predecessor, Veronica Johns, was the first female CEO of an automotive company in Australia, so encouraging more women to join the industry is a cause we feel incredibly strongly about," FCA Australia President and CEO Pat Dougherty said.

The Women in Auto Trades program is a five-week full-time mechanics induction which upon completion allows graduates the opportunity to apply for trade apprenticeships with participating industry partners.

Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercar team owner Betty Klimenko acts as an ambassador for the program and says it is a great way to address both a skills shortage and gender imbalance.

"The auto industry is not just for males. I am proud of what I have achieved so far with my racing teams and would one day like to see more of a female presence across all facets of the industry, from team ownership and drivers to the all-important mechanical, engineering and race support areas," she said.

The initiative is the first of its type in NSW and received seed-funding from the NSW Government's Investing in Women program in 2013 and will also help fill a 22,000-person mechanical skills shortage across the country.