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Feature Article

In the driving seat

Boosted by a Class 2 training scholarship funded by Fuso NZ and TR Group, Blenheim’s Sharon Mansfield is looking forward to making a living behind the wheel.

The scholarship, worth $1,145, was created by Fuso NZ in partnership with Women in Road Transport (WiRT) to help women who face challenges and obstacles in trying to enter the industry.

The fully funded course provides a fast-track to gaining a Class 2 licence and helps aspiring female truck drivers get a foot on the ladder.

For 54-year-old Sharon, the scholarship provided the opportunity to achieve a long-held goal.

“I’ve always loved driving and consider myself to be pretty good at it too,” says Sharon. “this has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but the scholarship really encouraged me to finally pull the trigger and go for it.”

The Class 2 course included a written theory exam and a practical assessment over Weld Pass on State Highway 1 (12km south of Blenheim). The pass winds up the side of a valley approximately 180m to its highest point, with tight corners and steep drop-offs making it a high-risk road.

“The course was great; I’m feeling more confident each time I get behind the wheel.”

Sharon’s instructor for the course, Grant Ingersoll from Master Drive Blenheim, said she came in keen to learn, working hard to earn her heavy vehicle learners and Class 2 licenses within a week.

“The practical test placed her in situations that are essential to proving competence as a driver. She was safety conscious and showed she’s ready to handle a heavy vehicle on the road,” Grant said. “This has given her a new outlook on life, and she was clearly excited by the opportunities this licence provides her.”

Over her career, Sharon has worked across a diverse range of disciplines such as banking, reception, and courier delivery. She most enjoys work that provides variety and getting out and about.

“I can’t sit at a desk for eight hours a day; I need to be on the move, engaging with people and listening to music,” says Sharon. 

Having seen many women driving trucks, and having friends who have worked in Australian mines, the notion of being a woman in trucking doesn’t faze Sharon.

“I’ve seen women working in all sorts of traditionally ‘masculine’ jobs. Being independent, I’ve always backed myself to rise up to any challenge put in front of me.”

With her self-belief now backed up with a Class 2 licence, Sharon is optimistic about her future.

“This has unlocked many opportunities for me, and I can’t wait to get to work!”

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