Certificate III in Automotive Vehicle Body (Spraypainting)

Enjoying the ride

She isn’t your typical vehicle painter, but she does typify success. For as long as she can remember, Dusti-Lee Franchi has had a keen interest in cars. From watching drags and speedways, it has been her passion. Now her passion has landed her at the top of her trade, and Dusti-Lee is very much enjoying the ride.

“I always knew I would do a trade, as school wasn’t really my thing,” said Dusti-Lee. “My original idea was to do hairdressing, but I was never one of those ‘girly’ girls into hair, makeup and dressing up every day. So then I thought I’d try work experience in a field which would also allow me to indulge my love of cars. I went to a local panel and paint shop, was put in the spray painting section and loved it from Day One.”

Luckily for Dusti-Lee, the feeling was reciprocated at her workplace, Stokes and Renk Panel and Paint smash repairers in Western Australia. Promised an apprenticeship by her boss, Dusti-Lee decided to leave school before finishing year 12 and ‘get on with it’. Studying at Polytechnic West–Carlisle, her obvious talent was noticed by her teachers, who suggested she try for the WorldSkills National Competition in 2016. 

“I was so eager to do well, and so well supported by my teachers,” said Dusti-Lee. “I was mentored constantly, and given as much training as I needed to make sure I was as good as I could be for the national competition. All that paid off when I won the Gold Medal, and I was so grateful.”

Dusti-Lee is now back at TAFE doing extra intense training to try to secure a place in the international team competing in Abu Dhabi in October 2017. “It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m doing everything I can to ensure I perform to the best of my abilities,” she said.

This striving for excellence is apparent in all of Dusti-Lee’s work, as is her enjoyment of what she does. “I’m doing something new all the time and every job is different,” she said. “There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction you get from fixing up a crumpled wreck and transforming it to something that’s painted, finished, shiny and showroom ready. And it’s so rewarding when customers really appreciate all your hard work. Making them happy is my favourite part of the job.”

Thinking about her experience in switching from one trade to another, Dusti’s advice to other young people considering a trade is to try work experience first. “That way you get a good taste of something without committing to it,” she said. “If it turns out it’s not for you, then you’ve lost nothing. Think about doing something you might really enjoy, and if you find that something, and you’re offered an apprenticeship, go for it, as some apprenticeships aren’t easy to come by.”

If she makes it to Abu Dhabi, upon her return Dusti-Lee will focus on further developing her skills, possibly becoming a TAFE teacher, and making her dream to own her own shop come true. “Having my own business will not only make my dream come true, but it will also enable me to provide other young people with the same opportunities I have had. That would be really awesome,” she said.

If you are interested in an Australian Apprenticeship and how to get started, download An Australian Apprenticeship - Endless Career Possibilities brochure or contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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