Girls of Steel

Image: Young women walked through Tonkin’s warehouse earlier this week to see what the company had on offer and to meet women ‘tradies’. Picture supplied

Source: The Border Mail, Written by: Sophie Ellis.

Girls of Steel take on trades’ old boys’ club

A BORDER program aiming to get more women into male-dominated trades is well under way this week in the wake of a highly successful first intake.

The Girls of Steel course is run by social enterprise organisation The Skill Engineer Ltd and has “lady tradies” completing two courses over 12 months.

One is the certificate I in work skills and the other a certificate II in engineering pathways.

Project director Brendan Ritchens said the program, available to women 17 and above, aimed to foster gender diversity in the workplace by placing women in non-traditional roles.

Mr Ritchens said the feedback from the first course was positive.

“We don’t encourage our graduates to join companies unless we know it’s a safe environment and their skills match the employer,” he said.

“With the success from the first group and a few women going on to getting apprenticeships, the eight girls have enjoyed going to various companies and getting hands-on experience this week.

“It’s been going good so far, and all the girls love it.”

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

Albury trades business Tonkin’s company direct, James Tonkin, said he was a “big supporter” of the program and equally so, any platform that promoted gender equality and equal opportunity.

The female tradies of this year’s intake walked through his firm’s warehouse earlier this week, with the tour followed by a question and answer session with female tradies already in the industry.

“It was with great pride we could welcome the cohort into our workplace,” Mr Tonkin said.

“We hope this inspires many more to follow in their footsteps and consider a trade as a career path.

“Our female tradies all have bright fitters in their respective professions as refrigeration mechanics, plumbers and electricians.”

Mr Tonkin said the trade industry was unrecognisable from what it was 15 years ago.

“Many age-old customs on a job site are now permanently redundant,” he said.

“At Tonkin, we are proud to have helped along a more progressive and diverse atmosphere, and there is no gender bias in our recruitment strategy both in the field and in the office.”

Wodonga’s Kestrel team leader Scott Dunlop said there had been a shift in women’s preferences and career goals.

“Some are doing so for a variety of reasons including a more stable career for themselves,” he said.

For more information call (03) 5737 4257 or apply here.