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TAFE Queensland provides trade career pathways for women

TAFE Queensland is providing trade career pathways for women with its Women In Construction program.

More trade career pathways are being created for women with the Women in Construction pre-apprenticeship program, designed to break down gender stereotypes and barriers for women entering a male dominated industry.

The initiative was developed by national Group Training Organisation (GTO) Apprenticeships Careers Australia, who aimed to provide the all-female student group with the necessary training, skills, and support to help them succeed and build lifelong careers in construction.

TAFE Queensland was selected as the training provider to run the 10 week program which saw the first cohort of 10 women graduate in April with a Certificate I in Construction (CPC10120). Throughout the course students completed work experience two days per week with industry partners such as Hutchinson Builders, Modern Painting Group, Main Layne Construction and RB&S Construction, which was organised directly through Apprenticeship Careers Australia.

The all-female group were taught in-demand skills to help them to confidently seek an apprenticeship in a wide range of construction occupations including bricklaying, carpentry, painting and decorating, and wall and floor tiling.

As part of the program, the students were able to hear from guest speakers already working in the trade industry. This included Radmila Desic from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), TAFE Queensland Apprentice Award winner Jasmine Turnbull, and Morgan Rooney from Hutchinson Builders.

Since the program's completion, six out of the 10 female students have since been employed as apprentices across landscaping, painting and decorating, carpentry, cabinet making, plastering and plumbing.

Shannon Soutter, 22, had already completed a university degree in genetics but enrolled wanting to explore the different avenues that a trade career could offer.

“I decided to enrol because I wanted to gain more exposure to what a trade career would be like. I was also hoping that it would lead me to securing a carpentry apprenticeship which it has, with Main Layne Constructions,” Shannon said.

“The best part of the program was definitely the hands-on learning and work experience which gave us real exposure to what a trade career would be like,” she continued.

Vaishnava Weir-Smith, 38, and daughter Prishni Weir-Smith, 17, decided to complete the program together, a unique experience for the mother-daughter duo.

After Prishni completed work experience at Hutchinson’s, she found her passion and has since started a cabinet making apprenticeship with another organisation thanks to the experience gained across the course.

Prishni said that she had always wanted to get into a trade but hadn’t known where to start.

Vaishnava, who had previously been employed in aged care, said that she completed the course to learn new skills, meet new people and also gain confidence.

“I think the program was fantastic, it was something that I didn’t think that I would ever do,” Vaishnava said.

“It was also really great to have the different guest speakers come in to speak to us. We were able to learn about their experiences and ask questions."

“The thing that I found really exciting about the program is that we made these connections that we will have for life within the trade industry, so it’s been great in that way,” she finished.

Vaishnava is now hoping to find a cabinet making apprenticeship and hopes that her new industry connections will be helpful in this process.

The Certificate I in Construction (CPC10120) for women was offered at TAFE Queensland's Acacia Ridge campus, a flagship trade training centre located within a key employment and population precinct.

Course participants were also made members of the National Association of Women in Construction, an Australian not-for-profit organisation which strives to champion and empower women in the construction and related industries to reach their full potential.