BUILDING BRIDGES: Fourth-year building apprentice Natalie Creed is one of a new band of young women tackling the traditionally male-dominated trade.
Being the only woman on a worksite full of tradesmen can be an eye-opening experience.
It can also be a surprisingly rewarding one, according to Natalie Creed, a fourth year apprentice builder with Wagga’s Ladex Construction Group.
Ms Creed, 22, is part of a growing band of young women hammering home a reputation as talented professionals in the construction trades.
The granddaughter of a builder, Ms Creed yearned for a career where she could get her “hands dirty” after leaving school but didn’t consider construction until a family friend invited her to do some work experience at his company.
“As soon as I started, I knew it was for me,” Ms Creed said. “Once you learn how to do something it’s really satisfying and seeing a project come together is incredibly rewarding.”
Her employer chose TAFE NSW for Ms Creed to study theCertificate III in Building and Construction at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga and she found the hands-on learning and personalised teaching invaluable.
“The teachers were amazing. They all had so much industry experience and if you didn’t understand something, they helped you through it,” she said.
Ms Creed is now keen to ratchet her training up a notch, enrolling in a Certificate IV in Building and Construction, making her a licensed builder. She also hopes to use the qualification as a springboard to further studies in project management or architecture.
As for being a female in an industry where less than 1 per cent of workers share her gender, Ms Creed was philosophical.
“It was a bit confronting at first but it didn’t take me long to be part of the team,” she said. “I don’t see myself as a trailblazer but I would definitely encourage other females interested in construction to just give it a go.”
Labour market reports from the Department of Jobs and Small Business show that in 2018, only 38 per cent of construction job vacancies were filled, with an average of 0.5 qualified applicants per advertised job.
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Construction Patrick Rawnsley said those figures reflected the strong demand for qualified and well-trained builders, both male and female.
“There are fantastic opportunities for a long and prosperous career in construction,” Mr Rawnsley said. “And we are seeing more females enter non-traditional trades than ever before.”
To find out more about studying construction at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.