Coral McKissack is a first year apprentice motor vehicle technician at Arnold Clark’s Pollokshaws Road Volkswagen site in Glasgow. She is supported by GTG Training’s Automotive Training department, a vocational training centre for the motor trade, also in Glasgow.
“…Everyone I have spoken to, including customers, has been very supportive of women being in this industry and would like to see more of it…”
Coral, please can you tell us about your career to date and how what made you want to work with cars?
I’ve always had an interest in cars throughout my life and now I’m finally getting to do something I have always wanted to.
What does your role at Arnold Clark involve and what have your learnt since you started?
I’ve learned lots of new skills including diagnostics, which many people have to wait until their third year to do. My role involves some jobs like emptying oil drainers, so it can get messy sometimes! I also have to ensure the workshop is a clean and tidy place to work – safety is very important.
How is your apprenticeship structured and what are the benefits of learning on the job?
I work for several weeks at the branch and then return to GTG Training, where my knowledge is tested. I don’t think you learn properly by looking at a book all day – it’s best to learn on the job and put your skills into practice. I also learn a lot from the wide range of technicians who teach us, as they all have their own way of doing things.
How does Arnold Clark support women in auto technician roles?
As a woman in this role, I feel I am fairly treated and I have been fortunate not to have met anyone who thinks that I shouldn’t be in this line of work. Everyone I have spoken to, including customers, has been very supportive of women being in this industry and would like to see more of it.
What are the challenges being a woman working in a male dominated industry like automotive?
Obviously, as with many things, not everyone has moved with the times and so there’s a chance you might be met with unfair behaviour, challenging customers or people who don’t think you are capable of working with cars, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m good at my job and I’m proud of what I do, so I’ve got nothing to worry about.
What is your advice for other women and girls who are interested in finding out more about a career as an auto technician?
My advice to women and girls would be not to let narrow-minded people put you off and just go for it. There’s no reason to suggest that women cannot be successful in a male-dominated industry and vice versa. We are all capable.
What can the automotive sector do to attract more women?
I would say that the automotive sector should hold more open days to attract more women. It would also be beneficial to have female technicians on hand so aspiring technicians can chat to them rather than just reading about them. Women may feel more comfortable approaching other women and asking questions. This would help to encourage them to get involved in the automotive industry.
What is coming up next for you and Arnold Clark?
I’ll be continuing to work hard through each subject and hopefully move on to my second year. In the meantime, I hope to be able to persuade more women to join the industry!