Back in the Saddle to Scoop Apprenticeship Award
Apprentice Dominika Drabinova has collected an award for her perseverance in the male-dominated vehicle industry, after a motorcycle crash almost ended her ambition to become a mechanic.
The 21-year-old broke her pelvis when a car collided with the motorbike she was driving in November – an injury which can mean learning to walk again. Luckily, the motor vehicle enthusiast was able to return to Stockport College two weeks later and continue her studies in Light Vehicle Maintenance Level 2.
“I wasn’t alright at the time. I didn’t know how it was going to affect me and affect my goal to become a motor vehicle technician. That was the biggest obstacle for me, not that I’m female. All my male colleagues have treated me well, like there’s no difference between us,” Dominika, from Droylsden, said.
During her apprenticeship, Dominika has been learning from industry experts at Stockport College’s state-of-the-art motor vehicle teaching workshops while gaining hands on experience for the rest of the week at a paid work placement. Over the course of her Level 2, the apprentice has serviced and maintained vehicles, changed clutches and taken gearboxes out – taking her own motorbike apart and putting it back together in her spare time.
Cheshire Motor Care Sales Director Abbas Shaban, who has employed Dominika since August, said: “I didn’t expect such a good female technician. She was really enthusiastic and wanted to prove a point that females can really be a technician. That’s what I liked about her.
“She’s not your average vehicle technician. In certain instances, she outshines her male peers.”
Dominika combines her practical knowledge with wider reading at the College library. Her love of reading was how she became interested in the profession - after learning about a fictional female mechanic. Keen to learn, she then decided to cold-call local garages to gain work experience.
She said: “I wanted to be a mechanic, but people said ‘but you’re a girl!’, but I wanted to prove them wrong. I thought I would enjoy working in a garage. The more I started to understand, the more I enjoyed it. If I get excited by something, I just go for it.
“There are no other mechanics in my family, so now they call me if there’s something wrong - to tell them how to fix it. With this award, now I’ll be able to tell my parents that I’m doing well, that I’m not just a mechanic, I’m a really good mechanic.”
Dominika is one of Stockport College’s star apprentices who is set to receive an Apprentice of the Year Award at AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday 7 March 2019.
Stockport College Apprentice Manager, Louise Jones, said: “Dominika is an enthusiastic hard working apprentice, since starting out on her skills and knowledge have progressed enormously. She faces challenges with determination and resilience, and goes above and beyond to make sure all her work is of a high standard both in the workplace and at College.”