After years working in administration, 22-year-old Kymberley decided to take a leap of faith and apply for an electrician apprenticeship.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after Year 12, but I’m relieved to say I finally feel like I’m on the right path,” she said.
Kymberley is a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30811) student at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus.
According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook service, women make up just two per cent of all electricians.
“Honestly, when I graduated from high school a trade was the last thing on my mind. I never really considered myself the tradie type as trades are predominantly male roles, but working within the industry this last year has shown me that females are accepted and welcomed in the tradie world."
Kymberley admits that she was initially uneasy about hitting the books again, five years after completing high school.
“I was very nervous to go back to learning and studying the things I hadn’t done in years, but I had nothing to worry about,” Kymberley said.
“TAFE Queensland helped me progress through my first year tremendously, and I would not be going into my second year as confident without this training."
Kymberley is an Ergon Energy apprentice and she said each workday brings a new and exciting experience.
“I enjoy everything about my apprenticeship and I really love how every day is different. I get to travel around Queensland and work in places I’ve never been to or even knew about. I also get to meet so many different tradespeople who offer their guidance and knowledge and allow me to learn from them."
Kymberley said her work is far more varied than she ever expected.
“As an apprentice electrician, I rotate through different sections of the company which will help build my skill set. So far I have worked with the underground and generation crews and I am currently with the customer service team. I have already learnt so much from the different sections."
“During my first year as an apprentice I was able to set up job sites and observe the work being completed. Now that I’m in my second year, I will be able to take on more responsibility during jobs which I am excited to experience.”
National job data shows the number of people working as electricians grew strongly over the last five years and that growth is expected to continue with around 26,000 electrician job openings predicted by 2023.
Kymberley hopes other women interested in a trade career get started today.
“You should 100 per cent apply! This is a career that gives you multiple opportunities and skills which can take you anywhere and will better your everyday life."
“There is constant support available to help you get on the right track if you show motivation, dedication and initiative.”
“If you’re not sure if a trade career is for you, I’d definitely recommend studying a Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start) (UEE22011) which will give you insight into what you will be working with and doing in industry."
Encouraging more women to pursue their career goals and participate in the workforce could add up to $25 billion to the Australian economy.
TAFE Queensland Building and Infrastructure Industry Portfolio Manager (North region) Tracy Turner said increasing diversity in industry is a win-win.
“There is plenty of research that shows gender equality in the workplace can positively impact an organisation’s reputation, sustainability, competitiveness, productivity, economic growth and overall performance,” Tracy said.
“The female apprentices studying with us are often leaders in the classroom, they are gentle on the tools and they show great attention to detail - attributes which are appealing to employers."
“There are skills gaps in a number of industries and women interested in a trade career could capitalise.”