Tue 4 Jul 2017

Gently does it in WITT's workshop

WITT’s newest automotive tutor went through the same process any newbie might expect when facing up to a class.

Students like to test the mettle of their teachers.

This one, though, was slightly different - and it took a lesson on how brains beats brawn to free a stuck tyre in a machine to prove a point.

“I can’t remember the exact words … but it was something along the lines of: so she really is a mechanic,” Kerrie Thomson-Booth said.

Kerrie has been co-owner with husband Warrick of Fitzroy Automotive since 2004 and the operation prides itself on the fact that of the six apprentices it has taken on since then three were women.

The decision to go back to school and become a WITT tutor was made as part of the fallout from a health scare she had last year.

“I had a seizure and couldn’t drive for a while – which for someone independent like me was really annoying. It made me think about bucket lists,’’ she recalled.

Several months on there were no repeat of the incident, and doctors eventually leaned towards the cause being more related to stress and fatigue.

So a change was considered – and when a position came up at WITT, Kerrie applied and got the job.

A few weeks in she is thoroughly enjoying the new role, though says just like her students, she has a lot to learn.

What she is driving, though, is the lesson to students to learn to be work fit. She knows from experience that the transition from school to work involves learning some lesson in actually arriving at work on time five days a week.

“I call it work fitness – an expectation of being on time and working through to 4.30. So many enter the workforce and find they are knackered by Wednesday 3pm.’’

What’s under the hood has changed a great deal in the past 30 years, but punctuality, respect and honesty don’t change, she says.

When WITT News visited, the new tutor was held up while answering a series of questions from her students. She was pleased to get an outsider’s perspective that they clearly respected her opinion.

“I’ve not gone into this lightly - it’s a challenge. I’m a reasonable mechanic, but there is a big difference between what’s in your head and being able to impart the knowledge.’’

For Kerrie the new role offers a hand in ensuring people with the right attitude and skills are coming into the industry.

And, she stresses, the skillset is growing all the time as cars become more computerised.

Kerrie has two female students in one of her classes.

Perhaps her presence in the WITT workshop will attracted a lot more.