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Indigenous girls try a trade at TAFE NSW Orange


Indigenous girls try a trade at TAFE NSW Orange

A collaboration between TAFE NSW Orange and VERTO has delivered a Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) Program for indigenous teenage girls at Canobolas High and Orange High, introducing them to the tools, safety and skills required to work in a trade.

Women account for only 1% of the construction workforce, and with trades in short supply across the country, 'try a trade' programs like the YES Program are an important way to introduce young people to trade pathways and employment opportunities.

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Construction, Sue Priest, said the YES Program has offered the girls insight and skills in a range of different trades.

“The girls have been attending TAFE a few days a week for the past five weeks land have been exposed to carpentry, wall and ceiling lining, joinery and painting and decorating courses,” Ms Priest said.

“They built a smoko chair in joinery and have gone on to paint that and will take it home with them, they have also framed up and gyprocked walls.

“As a female head teacher, it’s always exciting to have female construction students so we can show them the opportunities available in what were once traditionally male industries.

“It’s an opportunity to see what they do and don’t like, as well as teaching them skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

VERTO Indigenous Leadership Program Coordinator, Mary Croaker, said it’s been great to bring students from both Canobolas and Orange High School together for the YES Program.

“Tidda’s Tradies (Tidda is the Wiradjuri word for sister) is a program run by VERTO which aims to bring together Indigenous women to learn new skills and connect with community and culture,” Ms Croaker said.

“TAFE NSW is great to partner with because they offer lots of different courses and skills that the girls can take away with them.

“We’ve had a successful partnership with TAFE NSW for our senior group, but we wanted to involve our juniors as well which is how this program came about.”

Year 10 student at Orange High School, Janice Lawrence-Lyall, said she is considering doing a trade when she finishes school.

“I’ve really enjoyed this program because it’s very practical and hands-on which is how I learn best,” Janice said.

“We’re learning skills that we can get jobs with; I particularly enjoyed the carpentry and plastering.

“I start year 11 next year, so I’m hoping to do a TVET course and get a qualification while I’m still at school.”