Women are underrepresented in trades making up only two per cent of qualified trade workers. However, TAFE NSW electrotechnology Teacher Leonie Davies sees improvement taking hold as larger companies diversify their workforce.
Ms Davies has been sparking inspiration among female electrotechnology students since becoming a TAFE NSW teacher in 2019.
Now as a Head Teacher at TAFE NSW Wollongong, she continues to pass on her passion for the electrical trade to students, playing a key role in training the next generation of tradies both male and female.
Working in a male-dominated industry is nothing new for Ms Davies who earned her stripes as an electrician in her previous workplaces of heavy industry and mining sites.
Ms Davies career began with an electrical apprenticeship in Port Kembla and has always worked in large industrial, mining and construction sites.
“I did four years as a fly-in-fly-out worker on Curtis Island and in Darwin working on gas plants. “Those years provided excellent experience and my students are interested in the work I have done
“Everything TAFE NSW electrotechnology students learn, will give them a good grounding in the industry basics and practical in-demand skills so then they can go into so many different fields.”
In just a few years teaching at TAFE NSW, she said she has seen more young women entering the electrical trades, particularly in the employment of larger companies.
“The major companies are increasing their number of female apprentices. For example, this year we have three first-year apprentice electricians and one third-year apprentice who work for Endeavour Energy.
“My vision is to see more smaller businesses follow suit, adding more women to roles. I also think it’s important for women in trades to encourage other women to come on board,” Ms Davies said.
Endeavour Energy Apprentice Support Manager Darryl Leslie said a few years ago the company made a decision to increase the numbers of female apprentices.
“We have very capable women in our apprenticeships covering a range of skills. Some have graduated as substation technicians while others move into the poles and wires part of the business. The women in our organisation work shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues across our network in the Illawarra, South Coast, Southern Highlands, Sydney and Blue Mountains often in storm and emergency conditions.
“Safety is the most important thing we do at Endeavour, and I think that attracts women, they know they will be safe and respected. That’s our culture.
“The women who work with us are helping get the message out there that trades aren’t only for men. We have a number of successful and qualified tradeswomen who are supporting the next generation of apprentices as mentors.”
Media contact: Adam Wright, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0466 375 552.