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A TAFE NSW Lithgow graduate is urging local women to consider a career in engineering trades and take advantage of the growing jobs demand in the manufacturing industry.
With manufacturing contributing to six per cent of Australia's GDP, women only make up 27.5% of the workforce, according to ABS data.
23-year-old Latia Hardie completed a Certificate IV in Engineering as part of an apprenticeship last year and is one of a small number of women taking advantage of the career opportunities in the industry.
Now working as a technician machine setter at Thales Australia in Lithgow, Latia said she got her first taste of the industry working as an operator to help her pay for university.
"I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school, and girls were pushed towards university. A career in trade wasn't something I had the option to explore," said Latia.
"Working on-site, I started to sit with the CNC setters who took the time to show me what they did. I was fascinated by the process, and within six months, I had deferred uni and applied for an apprenticeship."
Latia said she completed a Certificate II in Engineering before starting a Certificate IV, which helped her gain a range of hands-on technical skills in welding and fitting, and machining.
"It's the perfect way to get your foot in the door. Studying at TAFE NSW built my confidence, and my teacher helped challenge me to take my skills to the next level," said Latia.
"I think a lot of women would surprise themselves about what they're capable of achieving in this industry.
"Every day is different, and the learning and promotion opportunities mean I can continue to progress in my career. If you have the motivation, the sky is the limit of what you could achieve."
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Metal Fabrication and Welding Marty Whelan said that with the region's manufacturing and construction sector growing, there is an enormous opportunity for employment.
"Increasing the number of women in trades is absolutely necessary, and it's critical that we are getting the right people into the right jobs, regardless of gender," Mr Whelan said.
"The Certificate II in Engineering is a great start to explore real-world scenarios in the workshop, including learning basic hands-on skills like welding and soldering, and is a direct pathway to the Certificate III in Engineering as an apprenticeship or traineeship."
For more information about the range of engineering and manufacturing qualifications offered at TAFE NSW, head to www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
Media contact: Kelly Lawler, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, Kellyfirstname.lastname@example.org, or mobile 0408 481 864.