Kimberly Smyth saw her redundancy in 2012 as a blessing in disguise.
The Mernda resident had worked at Fairfax’s printing plant in Tullamarine as a print press operator for 10 years before the media organisation decided to downsize and shed almost 2000 jobs.
Faced with the daunting prospect of unemployment, the mother of four decided to fulfil her life-long dream and enrolled in a plumbing pre-apprenticeship at NMIT in Heidelberg.
“It was impossible for me to do a trade when we had young children, but I never let go of the idea of opening a female plumbing business,” Ms Smyth said.
That dream came true just months after her redundancy when she started her business Hey Sista Plumbing, which she co-owns with her husband, a practising plumber since he was 18.
Ms Smyth’s persistence in breaking into the male-dominated trade hasn’t gone unnoticed.
This month she was one of 25 hardworking and dedicated apprentice plumbers across Australia to receive a $1000 grant under the Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants program.
The grants are awarded to people most in need of financial assistance and are designed to help apprentices pursue their plumbing career.
Ms Smyth, 33, says her grant will go towards her trade school fees.
She’s hoping to expand the business next year when her youngest starts school, and hire another one or two female plumbers – preferably mothers.