Bringing women into trades with program

Image: INTO WORK: The Skill Engineer is recruiting for its Girls of Steel program based in Wangaratta, aiming to get more women into male-dominated trades. Erin Ritchens is among the team that facilitates the program.

Source: Border Mail, Ellen Ebsary

Bringing women into trades with program

After a highly successful first intake, a program assisting women to get into male-dominated trades is firing back up again.

The Skill Engineer‘s Girls of Steel program supports females to gain apprenticeships in non-traditional trades.

Recruitment recently opened for the 2022 program, based at Evero Engineering‘s Wangaratta campus.

The free course involves a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways and a Cert I in Work Skills, undertaken in a local engineering workshop.

It is available to women 17 and over and running during school hours within school terms over 12 months.

The Skill Engineer managing director Brendan Ritchens said six out of 10 participants had immediately secured jobs an apprenticeships following the 2021 program.

“It’s been pretty positive; they’re stoked that they’re getting work but along the way we’ve also been able to offer them paid experience with some of the projects that Evero Engineering are engaged in as well,” he said.

“That gets them onto live worksites. It can be self-directed; if they have a good idea, we’ll nurture that, and there’s careers out there for it.

“There’s so much work out there, and they’ll be supported all the way through.

“We’re also expanding it to the Central Coast of NSW … that was set to happen earlier but COVID had locked us out of that region.”

Just more than 12 per cent of the engineering labour workforce nationally is female; this project aims to foster gender diversity in the workplace.

Mr Ritchens said the participants had brought so much value to his workplaces and that he was excited for the second iteration to get under way.

“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,” he said.

“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.

“Don’t be turned off, thinking it’s a traditionally male-dominated field.”

The course is project-based, including the manufacture of park furniture for councils, sculptures, trailers, signposts and bespoke letterboxes.

Sheet metal fabrication, fitting and turning, welding, boiler making and mechanical fitting are among the skills in focus.

Mr Ritchens said it was a very family friendly program and the needs of participants would be supported.

Register interest in the Girls of Steel program at