Codene Arendse, apprentice at Baxter Auto Services

Welcoming Worcester’s first female apprentice

Codene Arendse is making industry history as the first female apprentice to join Baxter Auto Services. Here is her story...

Despite efforts to improve gender diversity in the industry, female apprentices are rare. Baxter Auto Services, established by Charles Baxter in 1992, is therefore extremely proud to welcome on board Codene Arendse, the first female car mechanic in Worcester.

Charles and his son, Charlton, have been actively involved in training apprentices since 1994, taking on students who have completed the theoretical part of their training at colleges like Motus Training Academy and Boland College, but who still need to complete a practical component. Charles is especially enthusiastic about the training because, as he points out, it helps to keep young people off the streets.

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Charles Baxter and Codene Arendse.

Charles informs that Codene started her training in January 2018, and completed her NQF levels 2, 3 and 4 before passing the trade test. “Codene is very good at her work,” he says. “It’s not easy getting this qualification – most people fail their first attempt. Although we usually help the apprentices find jobs at other workshops, I was so impressed with Codene that I gave her a job at my own workshop.”

Charles notes that one of the reasons the qualification is so challenging is because it has a strong maths and science component – important because so many of the new vehicles require skills centered around electronics. This may account for the skills shortage in the area – although Charles is happy to say that he is seeing a growing interest from women. He’s not surprised: this is a job that requires a lot of hard work and discipline, which comes naturally to women. He is hoping to see another female apprentice enrol at Baxter Motors this year, as the schools generally send up to six students to look around the workshop and gain an insight into what their career as an apprentice would be. 

Charles is a strong supporter of bodies like MIWA and RMI, noting that membership is a true asset if you are looking to grow your business by accessing insured customers. “There are so many checks and balances to ensure your work is up to standard. I’m proud to say that we are a five-star graded workshop. The support we get from RMI and MIWA is incredible,” he concludes.