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TAFE NSW graduate exhibits signs of career success

TAFE NSW Maitland

TAFE NSW graduate exhibits signs of career success

TAFE NSW graduate and Mannering Park local Nicole Henderson has kickstarted her career with EM Signs and is urging others to consider a career in the signage industry.

Research shows the signage industry in Australia continues to be male dominated, with females making up only 12% of the workforce.

Ms Henderson, 21, found her true calling after her mum commented on her natural ability to apply boat decals. After graduating from high school, she landed an apprenticeship with EM Signs and enrolled in a Certificate III in Signs and Graphics at TAFE NSW Maitland.

“It’s such a unique and rewarding career. I love the variety of work I do. Every day is different, and you aren’t stuck in an office in front of a computer all day.”

Ms Henderson said TAFE NSW has armed her with a range of practical skills and real-world experience to succeed in her career.

“I’ve learnt useful skills that can even be applied outside of work. For example, I know how to use a drill, which means I can build or fix something around the house or on our boat.”

“Signwriting is a great industry and I encourage other women to consider pursuing this pathway,” Ms Henderson said.

“Coming into a male-dominated workforce, I was a bit intimidated. Even during the interview stage, out of eight applicants, I was the only female. Since then, I’ve become much more confident. I think women can do the job just as well, if not better.”

After 2.5 years at EM Signs, Ms Henderson fast-tracked her career, getting an early sign off on the apprenticeship and taking on the role of second-in-charge within the electrical section.

Signwriters design, fabricate and paint signs for displays, buildings, hoardings, boats, and structures. The fast-evolving industry continues to deliver traditional signage but is increasingly incorporating new solutions to meet rising digital demands.

TAFE NSW Maitland Painting and Decorating teacher, Chanelle Vincent, said TAFE NSW plays a critical role in growing the industry by providing a skilled workforce.

“We always try to encourage and support women in trades at TAFE NSW and Nicole is a great example of the high calibre of graduates produced.”

“Signwriting is still a relatively unknown trade, but there are lots of career pathways out there, such as sign manufacturer, sign writer and sign installer. What’s also great is that employers are constantly enquiring for new apprentices.”

To find out more about Certificate III in Signs and Graphics at TAFE NSW, visit or phone 131 601.

Media contact: 02 7920 5000,