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    Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs takes leap into Girls of Steel course

    Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs takes leap into Girls of Steel

    ,Image: TAKING CHARGE: Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs is holding a funnel, which by the time she gets to the end of the 12 month Girls of Steel training course she will be able to make herself.

    Source: The Border Mail, Written by: Victoria Ellis, Photograph: James Wiltshire.

    Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs takes leap into Girls of Steel course

    A young Wangaratta woman is determined to set her career on a non-traditional new path by completing an engineering training course being run for the first time.

    Brittany Gibbs will next week start the Girls of Steel program, which teaches young women from disadvantaged backgrounds foundational engineering skills in a hands-on, workplace-based training environment and connects them with a job at the end.

    Ms Gibbs left school after year 10 and has many jobs, including in administration and hospitality, but none of them stuck.

    “I like hospitality, but I’m a bit over it now,” she said.

    “Hopefully I get an apprenticeship afterwards and then I can go into the mines in a few years.”

    Ms Gibbs said that she’d found it hard to find full time ongoing work, but she hoped the course would be the first step in a lifelong career.

    “I wouldn’t mind starting a business creating fire pits,” she said.

    The program will be run by The Skill Engineer social enterprise with $1.2 million of federal government funding.

    Director Brendan Ritchens said the course would help women into engineering, a male-dominated industry.

    “Often for young women it’s not a consideration because they’ve been told it’s not a job for them, whereas it simply is,” he said.

    “I have young women who are apprentices at my work and they do every bit, they are better apprentices than most of the guys I’ve got. The gender thing isn’t and shouldn’t, be an issue.”

    Nationally, just over 12 per cent of the engineering labour workforce is female.

    Ms Gibbs said it was harder for young women to get into the industry.

    “It’s taken me until I’m 22 to push myself to do it,” she said.

    “Unless you kind of grow up around it, it can be hard to do something different. I was a bit nervous getting into something when there’s just men; I think because there’s more competition because you’ve got to sort of prove yourself to them. When I was getting shown all the stuff on the computer I was like, ‘that’s awesome, I want to do that’,” she said.

    Mr Ritchens, an engineer himself, said it would be an opportunity for participants to learn an “exceptional trade”.

    “The other pastoral care side of this is teaching the participants how to turn up on time, how to behave in the workplace, dress appropriately, create that work ethic,” he said.

    “The hours will support any women that may have young children, so they don’t have to pay for childcare.”

    He said he wanted participants to finish the course ready for the workplace, so he’d also support participants to get their driver licence, teach them business acumen and budgeting.

    “It’s a more rounded course,” he said.

    For more information call (03) 5737 4257.

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    Woman provides spark to industry

    Samara’s work grind pays off in spades

    Image: LOVING THE WORK: Samara encourages other young women to get involved in a trade.

    Source: Wangaratta Chronicle, Written by: Leah Anderson-Byrne, Photograph: Kieren Tilly.

    Woman provides spark to industry

    Samara’s work grind pays off in spades

    FACTORY work just wasn’t cutting it for Corowa local Samara Ferguson.

    The 24 year old recently started her Certificate I in Engineering Fabrication at Wangaratta-based company Evero and is loving every minute.

    “I’d wanted to do something different for a while because I’d just been working in factories forever and I needed something more hands on,” she said.

    “I’ve been doing it for about three weeks now and I love it; it’s hands on, I’m using my brain and once I’ve finished something I can look at it and go “I made that”.

    “It’s also great to be able to look at things I’m doing and see improvement and go from there.

    “Even in these three weeks, I’ve overcome my fear of angle grinders; I’m sweet with them now.”

    Samara said she encourages other young women to get involved in a trade.

    “If you’re interested, just do it,” she said.

    “Don’t be scared and don’t think just because it’s all men you can’t do it; just dive in.

    “It’s been really good so far and I’m so excited to learn new things because I enjoy learning and being able to look back at the end of it to see how far I’ve come.”

    Evero managing director Brendan Ritchens said it’s been “great” to see the work Samara has done.

    Evero is a general engineering company; the mainstay of our work is within the manufacturing industry around Wangaratta and the broader region,” he said.

    “One of the points of difference here is we train all our seven apprentices in house, which means they don’t go to TAFE, they’re just enrolled through the institution.

    “We have an apprentice master who trains them; he’s an ex-TAFE teacher and has a teaching degree so he does all training on site where they get to be among live work.

    “Samara is doing great so far, I’m looking forward to seeing her through the next four years.”

    The Tradeswomen Australia Community Foundation held a national webinar this month for girls and women to talk about the anxieties of entering a male dominated trades workplace with a panel of women currently working in the trades.

    For more information go to

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    Additional assistance to help students find work placements

    Additional assistance to help students find work placements


    Additional assistance to help students find work placements

    With many work placements not possible in 2020 due to COVID-19, The Skill Engineer (TSE) has opened at North Gosford to help assist HSC students find Vocational Education and Training (VET) work placements.

    HSC Entertainment students from Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College will be one of the first groups for the year heading out on work placement.

    Three Year 12 students will be assisting in creating video content for GoClimatarian, an organisation committed to fighting climate change through diet awareness.

    TSE Chief Executive, Maggie MacFie, said working in a fast paced environment with tight deadlines will give the students the chance to implement their classroom skills in a workplace setting.

    “Employers play an integral role in assisting our young people to make that important transition between school and work,” she said.

    The Skill Engineer (TSE) is a not-for-profit organisation contracted by the NSW Education Department which aims to advance vocational educational opportunities and find work placements for those who have completed their VET courses.

    TSE facilitates economic, social and civic inclusion for disadvantaged students, particularly at-risk young people, First Nations people and those with a disability.

    “2020 put an unimagined strain on local businesses, which had to adapt swiftly to changing regulations to stay afloat, and also on HSC students, who were unable to complete their mandatory work placements due to the pandemic.

    “Despite these challenges, the Central Coast community has proven itself to be strong and resilient,” MacFie said.

    “Already, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from businesses willing to host work placement students this year.

    “It’s because of the generosity of employers on the Coast that our young people are able to become equipped for the jobs of the future.”

    The company delivers co-ordination services in industries such as automotive, business services, construction, electrotechnology, entertainment, financial services, hospitality, human services, information and digital technology, primary industries, retail services and tourism, travel and events.

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