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Training first forges new career paths for women

TAFE Queensland's Women in Welding (NONAC03170) course is forging new career paths for women into male-dominated industries.

Ten Brisbane women are the first to complete TAFE Queensland’s new Women in Welding (NONAC03170) course created to bring more women into the typically male-dominated welding trade. The five day intensive course was run at TAFE Queensland’s Alexandra Hills campus, where the students learnt basic welding skills using the latest augmented reality technology as well as traditional welding techniques.

The course is set to run four more times at Alexandra Hills in 2022 between August and December. During the course, the group were also educated about the different range of trade careers available through TAFE Queensland and the many apprenticeship pathways available to them.

Since completing the course, the students have been connected to TAFE Queensland’s Find your Apprentice service which connects employers seeking apprentices with students who have completed pre-apprenticeship training through TAFE Queensland. One student has already enrolled in more welding training at TAFE Queensland's Bracken Ridge campus which will give her a further head start in her welding career.

Julie Hunt, 44, who came from a retail background said that she was not currently working before starting the course and hoped it would lead to a career change.

“The training has been really great, particularly having such a range of different machines available to train on,” said Julie.

“It was also really great to be in a classroom with a bunch of women from different backgrounds and age brackets,” she said.

Fellow student Marissa Hughes, 35, stated she had been worried before starting the course that she might be alienated for her age, but has found TAFE Queensland’s teaching methods to be inclusive for all ages.

“I thought I’d be the only one that’s not school-aged here but everyone’s been lovely,” said Marissa.

“I’ve worked in construction for about five years now and a lot of the boys weld. I thought it’d be a lot better learning at TAFE Queensland than onsite,” she said.

Sonya Thatcher, 47, is making perhaps the most remarkable career change out of the students, having been a nurse for 22 years.

“Instead of mending people I want to mend metal,” she said.

Other participants came from vocations in the retail, automotive, and construction industries.

TAFE Queensland’s Women in Welding program was delivered at no cost to participants, with the Queensland Government funding the course under the Workforce Transition Support Project.

Students learnt initial welding skills on TAFE Queensland’s state-of-the-art augmented reality welders before transferring these skills to real-world usage.

TAFE Queensland will continue to run more Women in Welding programs at the Alexandra Hills campus throughout the year. A Women in Trades program is also scheduled to run across the Alexandra Hills and Acacia Ridge campuses with multiple start dates available.