Thales Australia's Latia Hardie is a Manufacturing Technician - Machine Setter at the Lithgow Arms site and is the face of a TAFE NSW campaign to promote the career prospects available to women in the engineering trades and manufacturing industry. Latia shares her motivation for joining the female talent pool that makes up 27.5% of the manufacturing industry's workforce, and why other women should take advantage of the opportunities available in this booming sector.
The manufacturing industry is vital to Australia’s economy and accounts for six per cent of our national Gross Domestic Product. Thales Australia is an important contributor to this sector, particularly through our Small Arms manufacture in Lithgow and Acoustic sensor manufacture at Rydalmere delivering advanced capability to support some of the State’s and Commonwealth’s strategically important programs to ‘build a future we can all trust.’
Latia got her first taste of the industry working as a production operator on afternoon shift at Lithgow Arms to help her pay for university. "Working on-site, I started to sit with the CNC setters who took the time to show me what they did. I was fascinated by the process, and within six months, I had deferred uni and applied for an apprenticeship," says Latia. She completed a Certificate II in Engineering before starting a Certificate IV as part of her apprenticeship at Thales, which helped her gain a range of hands-on technical skills in welding and fitting, and machining.
I think a lot of women would surprise themselves about what they're capable of achieving in this industry. Every day is different, and the learning and promotion opportunities mean I can continue to progress in my career. If you have the motivation, the sky is the limit of what you could achieve."
Latia Hardie, Manufacturing Technician - Machine Setter at Thales Australia & NZ.
Latia has long been an advocate for the career opportunities available at Thales through an apprenticeship and previously appeared a guest speaker at Industry Careers Webinar hosted by the Regional Industry Education Partnerships program to educate secondary school students on the important work we do for the Australian Defence Force. She believes sharing her story is a useful way to reach young women weighing up their career options at a pivotal point in their life. "I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school, and girls were pushed towards university. A career in trade wasn't something I had the option to explore," says Latia.
Apprentices are an important part of the team culture at Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms business and many of the site’s technical, engineering and middle management started their careers as apprentices. Thales Australia’s Lithgow based Business Improvement Manager David Forbes says:
We truly believe at Lithgow that we reap what we sow, and the time we invested in our apprentices will ensure that our sovereign capability into the future is secured. I’m confident our apprenticeship program will continue to breed and prepare young people for a new era of technologies, digitisation, artificial intelligence and customer focused systems."
David Forbes - Business Improvement Manager at Thales Australia & NZ.
To read Latia’s blog piece for TAFE NSW, click here.