Blogs (Media Centre)


TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour

A Coffs Coast woman has made the switch from working in administration for a plumbing business to picking up the tools and becoming a plumber herself, beginning her studies at TAFE NSW.

New research reveals women comprise only two per cent of workers in construction, and Nicole Howarth said she is enjoying the challenge of an apprenticeship in the traditionally male-dominated field.

Nicole was employed in an administration role at XYZ and it was there she was exposed to plumbing and decided she’d much prefer to be out on the tools than in the office. Nicole was offered an apprenticeship and enrolled in a Certificate III in Plumbing at TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour.

“I love it, every job is a new challenge and I enjoy the problem-solving involved,” said Nicole.

“People tend to be a little surprised seeing a female tradie arrive but my employer and TAFE NSW has been so supportive. It’s great to have TAFE NSW teachers that are connected to industry and have extensive knowledge in their field.”

TAFE NSW provides women with pathways into a range of traditional trades and already boasts a comparatively higher number of female enrolments in these courses, at six per cent.

TAFE NSW Plumbing Teacher Dylan Sambrook said there’s never been a better time to consider a career in building and construction, with the Certificate III in Plumbing a nationally accredited course and fully subsidised under JobTrainer.

“We do everything we can to encourage and support women in trades at TAFE NSW and Nicole is a great example of the high standard of apprentice we’re training,” said Mr Sambrook.

“Increasing the number of women employed in the industry helps us respond to skills needs, especially in high-demand regions like the Coffs Coast.”

With demand surging thanks to the construction boom, Nicole agrees now is the time for women to pick up a trade.

“My TAFE studies are giving me a strong understanding of why and how things work, in a way that makes sense when I’m on the job. I’m getting the qualifications and experience I need to realise my dream,” said Nicole.

To find out more about the range of building and construction courses at TAFE NSW visit or phone 131 601. 


Media contact: Sarah Lievore, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,