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Harriet is designing her future in engineering

Fairholme College Toowoomba student, Harriet Beattie, isn’t fazed by the fact that engineering is traditionally a male-dominated industry, and is choosing to pursue her passion with a TAFE at School course.

“My big dream is to be able to design and build my own car one day,” Harriet explained.

“I love learning about how everything works.”

Interested in mechanics from a young age, Harriet isn’t waiting to study engineering after high school. She’s undertaking an interactive, hands-on Certificate III in Engineering – Technical (MEM30505) TAFE at School course one day a week, for 12 months, while she completes Year 10.

“We did a practical exercise recently that involved measuring out a drill gauge. We haven't cut it out yet, but that's been my favourite part of the course so far, as I like doing practical stuff,” she said.

Harriet’s father, Richard Beattie, encouraged Harriet’s decision to pursue an engineering career pathway.

“Harriet has always shown an interest in engineering, and this course fits perfectly with her future career aspirations,” Mr Beattie said.

“I’m very supportive of her choice to study at TAFE Queensland and we’re with her on this journey,” he said.

Fairholme College Toowoomba Pathways Coordinator, Laura Anderson, worked closely with Harriet to facilitate her enrolment in a TAFE at School course that matched her aspirations beyond school. 

“It’s great to see Harriet exploring her interests and studying at our local TAFE Queensland campus via the Fairholme Pathways Program,” she said.

“Harriet has stepped outside her comfort zone and connected with other high school students in a completely different learning environment from Fairholme.”

“She is bravely leading the way for our other Fairholme students interested in pursuing non-traditional career pathways,” added Ms Anderson.

Harriet isn’t the only young women in her class, however. This year, an all-female cohort is enrolled in TAFE Queensland Toowoomba’s Certificate III in Engineering – Technical (MEM30505) TAFE at School course, with the students gaining in-demand skills in 3D model drawing and design using computer-aided design (CAD) programs and processes.

Within the Darling Downs and South West Queensland region in particular, TAFE Queensland has seen an almost 27 per cent increase in the number of females enrolled across all engineering trade courses over the past three years.

The upward trend towards greater workforce equity in male-dominated trade occupations is not only being seen in Queensland, but across the country.

In NCVER’s most recent report on the subject, the number of female apprentices and trainees in training in trade occupations across Australia has risen to almost 30,000 – an increase of 69.4 per cent between June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2022.

According to NCVER, Queensland reported the most female trade occupation apprentices and trainees of any state or territory at June 30 2022, as per the report, with more than 7,500 female tradespeople in training. The sunshine state had also seen the second-sharpest rise since 2018 with an increase of 86.4 per cent.

As the largest and most trusted training provider in the state, training almost half of Queensland’s apprentices, TAFE Queensland General Manager of the South West Region, Jenni Butler, said creating a pathway for women into trade careers is central to supporting the growing skills demands across Australia, including in engineering.

“TAFE Queensland is committed to encouraging and supporting female students undertaking trade training as best possible so they can achieve their full potential,” Ms Butler said.

“At TAFE Queensland, we look to remove barriers and challenge stigmas placed in front of any of our students and allow them to build a lifelong career they are passionate about.’

“This applies to all of the industries we service, from engineering and construction right through to nursing and community support,” she said.