Image: STEEL WORKS: Projects undertaken during the Girls of Steel program include the manufacture of park furniture for councils, sculptures, signposts, bespoke letterboxes and trailers like this one.
Source: Wangaratta Chronicle, Written by: Evelyn Ritchens, Photograph: Supplied by Girls of Steel.
Australian-first ‘Girls of Steel’ Program
Nationally, just over 12 percent of the engineering labour workforce is female and this project aims to foster gender diversity in the workplace.
The Girls of Steel program combines training and job skills with the aim of employment on completion and encourages female participation to reduce barriers to increase women in trades.
Underpinned by a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways and a Certificate I in Work Skills, the program is undertaken in a local engineering workshop.
Brendan Ritchens, Managing Director of The Skill Engineer said the program is unique in the sense the girls are doing a course specifically aimed at women.
“The pastoral care of the student cohort is catered for and they work in a live engineering industrial environment rather than a classroom,” Mr Ritchens said.
“The first intake of students were enthusiastic and embraced the style of learning that we offered.”
The course is project-based, including the manufacture of park furniture for councils, sculptures, trailers, signposts and bespoke letterboxes.
“Being quite different to a traditional TAFE model, they worked in a live workshop environment surrounded by other professionals doing commercial work at the same time as they were learning.
“Students have been presented with opportunities to go out on job sites in a paid capacity on occasions to help reinforce the whole concept of what the course can offer.
“We’ve got a list of local companies who have reached out and expressed interest in securing graduates from Girls of Steel to go into apprenticeships once the course finishes and we’ve already transitioned three young women into trades and are extremely proud of them.
“It’s a great outcome for Wangaratta and these women.
Available for women aged 17 and over, the project runs during school hours within school terms over 12 months.
Registrations are now open for the second intake of students and interested women can register at www.bit.ly/girlsofsteel.
“There are a lot of career opportunities in the engineering field and a lot of opportunity for advancement in the field once you’re in there so don’t be turned off by thinking it’s a traditionally male dominated field,” Mr Ritchens said.