Angelina’s award-winning life after auto

Having worked for several years in the auto industry, Angelina made the decision to take charge of her future when rumours started that car making days in South Australia were limited.

“I was at Holden for about two years as a casual worker on and off, and I also did some work with component suppliers – mostly paintwork and some assembly work,” Angelina said.

“When I was there, rumours started going around about the future of Holden and so I started thinking about what was next for me.

“I didn’t really want to go back in to a factory, as I had been in and out of factory work since I left school in year 11.

“I’ve always worked, but it got to the point where I got sick of going around in circles so I decided to study at TAFE.”

The road to success took time and had its challenges, but Angelina was determined to succeed.

“At first, I tried an IT course but it really wasn’t my thing as I’m more of a hands-on person, so I started a Certificate III in Telecommunications,” Angelina said.

“I lived out of home, meaning I couldn’t afford to quit work to study full-time, so I was working five days a week and studying five nights a week for about 18 months.

“After completing my Cert III, I lost my job at Holden. I was one of the first casual jobs to go in 2013.

“I was offered jobs at component suppliers after that, but I wasn’t really interested as I wanted to pursue a job using the study I had done.

“I was unemployed for about two weeks before I was taken on by ATEC as an apprentice voice and data technician.

“I was 26 when I started my apprenticeship, so the wage drop was huge for me at first – it was almost a quarter of what I was earning at Holden, but I made it work.”

Angelina's story from Drive Your Future - Free support services auto workers

Angelina from ATEC

Watch Angelina’s story

I completed my apprenticeship in August 2017, and the hard work I put in to becoming fully qualified saw me named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the SA Training Awards in September.


“I still work for ATEC, specialising in optical fibre. The variety of the job keeps it interesting - I have worked on the Torrens to Torrens project, and I spliced fibre inside the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” Angelina said.

“To people that have recently been made redundant from the auto industry, my advice would be to use this time as an opportunity to pursue something you’ve always wanted to do, using the support programs available.

“I’ve found a lot of people can be wary of the risks in doing something new, but you just have to be willing to take a leap of faith and I am proof that you can make it work.

“It will take time though – it took me almost seven years to become fully qualified, but if you want to be re-trained or go in to a specialist industry it’s worth it. You just need to stick with it.”

The South Australian Training Awards are the State’s peak awards for Vocational Education and Training (VET), recognising quality, excellence and innovation in training. High achieving VET students, teachers, apprentices, employers and training organisations are invited to nominate.