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Never too late to learn a skill – mechanic mum

Danielle Couchman is now an apprentice at JP Motors in Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Training for a new career while raising children has its challenges, but apprentice mechanic Danielle Couchman is encouraging other parents to follow their dreams.

The mother of one is completing an apprenticeship at JP Motors in Masterton, after studying for a Level 3 certificate in automotive engineering at UCOL Wairarapa.

She wanted to become a mechanic so she could fix her own vehicle instead of relying on other people and had always been interested in cars – her dad was a drag racing driver, and she got into the car scene as a teenager.

Before studying, Couchman had taken a few years off work to spend time with her daughter.

“I hadn’t been at school in a while, so getting back into that kind of environment was a little hard, but it didn’t take long to settle in. I felt a bit shy at first, because I was the only girl in our class and I was one of the older students, but our lecturers always made the class feel welcoming,” she said.

Although it could be difficult to balance being a student and a parent, she encouraged those considering it to “just go for it”.

“There is childcare out there and there are people out there who are willing to help. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It’s never too late to learn a new skill.

“I made sure I got all of my theory work done during the day because my life is so busy. Now I usually study on my lunch break rather than having to do it at home. That way, I have more time to spend with my daughter and do everything else.”

Couchman began work experience while completing her studies.

“I asked at JP Motors and they said I could start the very next week. It really helped that it’s such a friendly work environment and everyone was happy to answer my questions. I’m so thankful that I’m here.”

Couchman was focusing on finishing her apprenticeship, after which she hoped to get into the growing field of electric vehicles, and one day open her own shop and help other women get into the automotive trade.

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