Programmed apprentice Abbey Ullrich may only be 16, but she is already passionate about her chosen career and is very clear on her future direction.

The driven Falls Creek resident is already blazing a trail for young women at Programmed, after becoming the first female apprentice in the Facility Management business when she began a four year apprenticeship in January to become a Fitter Machinist.

After being given the opportunity to undertake work experience with Programmed in August last year, Abbey hasn’t looked back, particularly after she learnt the company offered a range of trade apprenticeships.

“I’ve always been interested in machinery, I rode motorbikes as a kid and loved pulling them apart,” she says. “I also grew up on a farm and the whole family had to share the maintenance jobs around the property, things like mending fences and fixing things, so I’ve always been very hands-on.

“While I was undertaking my work experience I tried all of the trades on offer, including working in the electrical department and spending some time in the machines area.

“After that, I was absolutely stoked to gain a great reference and report, so I applied to Programmed’s apprenticeship programme and a couple of months later gained an interview, and it all went from there.”

Abbey will continue to work in the machine department until June 2016, after which she will have completed her six months training and will begin working on-site. During her apprenticeship, she is also at Tafe one day a week.

“I was just so thrilled to be given the opportunity at Programmed and I absolutely love it,” she adds.

“I’m really enjoying working on the machines and learning how to properly use all of the tools and measure correctly,” she says. “I’m blown away that everyone genuinely enjoys helping each other, it’s a great team to be involved in.

“Yes it’s really challenging but I’m learning so much in such a short amount of time. All the supervisors are extremely supportive, they don’t treat me as just a young girl, and I really couldn’t think of anything better to be doing all day.”

In the future, Abbey is hoping to do her third year in hydraulics and pneumatics, after which her end goal is to become an engineer.

“You’ve only got one shot at life, so I reckon it’s all about giving it the best shot possible,” she says.