Growing up, naval shipbuilding apprentice Rebecca was surrounded by family in the Defence Force. “My parents, grandfather and older brother – they were all in the Army,” she says. “I didn’t really want to go down the Army route, but I still wanted to stay in defence.”
With a love of building and hands-on subjects including metalwork and outdoor education, Rebecca knew from an early age that a trade could be for her.
During high school in 2021, Rebecca – who says she learns best by doing – realised her dream and won a fabricating apprenticeship at Adelaide’s Osborne Naval Shipyard with BAE Systems Australia, the company contracted to build Australia’s 9 Hunter class frigates.
Rebecca is in her first year of training and is completing a certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade at TAFE SA. “The thing I love most about this job is everything is hands-on and you get to learn something new every day, it’s just a really, really awesome job,” she says.
It was during high school at St Patrick’s Technical College that Rebecca spotted a role at BAE Systems Australia. “This job just popped up and I went for it,” she says. “It kind of caught my eye that this job can be a lifetime job and if I just work hard and dedicate myself to this job, I think I’ll love it a lot.”
Building large ships the Royal Australian Navy will use to serve and protect the nation – including the Hunter class frigate, which at 151.4 m long will stretch more than six tennis courts laid end to end – really piqued Rebecca’s interest.
“In a way, I’m also helping them by participating in building ships and protecting our country and protecting our waters,” Rebecca says.
The sheer size of BAE Systems Australia – and its broader global business – was a big drawcard to Rebecca.
At school, Rebecca won several awards for her efforts, including Best Research and Metals & Engineering and to stand out in her interview, she made sure to demonstrate her experience in hands-on subjects and her collaborative approach. “Wherever you work, it’s really important to work in a team environment,” she says.
Rebecca’s advice for other young people: “If there is an opportunity that comes up, go for it.
“Keep working hard and no matter how tough it is, there is always going to be success at the end of that road. You’ve just got to keep trying hard and never give up.”