TAFE NSW Nowra student Yvette Bonner is one of only two per cent of female tradies in Australia, but she’s determined to encourage other women to try a trade when thinking of careers.
With new research revealing women comprise a very small percentage of workers in construction, Ms Bonner is in a unique position as a third-year apprentice electrician.
She fast-tracked her career, starting her studies in Electrotechnology as a TVET student in her final years of high school. After completing work placement with local electrical company Simmark, she was offered an apprenticeship. Once she completed her HSC, she was on the tools starting her career as an electrician.
Now, with one year of her apprenticeship remaining she will be a qualified electrician at the age of 22.
“I believe I was the first female apprentice electrician employed at Simmark and while I admit I was a bit worried at first, I had nothing to be concerned about. They’re very supportive and I wasn’t treated any different to anyone else,” she said.
Ms Bonner recently spoke at TAFE NSW Nowra to a class of local high school students taking part the Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) Program aimed at giving young people a taste of a career in Electrotechnology.
Participant, and year 10 student, Georgia Green grew up around family members with trades and decided she too wanted a hands-on career. “I don’t want to be stuck at a desk, I find it interesting building things and working with my hands. In my family we’ve got a builder, a boiler maker and my uncle who is an electrician. I’m interested in electronics so I’m looking at a job in that field,” Miss Green said.
TAFE NSW provides women with pathways into a range of traditional trades and already boasts a comparatively higher number of female enrolments in these courses, at 6 per cent.
TAFE NSW Head Teacher Andrew Oliphant said there’s never been a better time to consider a career in a construction trade, with the Certificate III in electrotechnology a nationally accredited course and fully subsidised under JobTrainer.
“We do everything we can to encourage and support women in trades at TAFE NSW and Yvette is a great example of the high standard of apprentice we’re training,” said Mr Oliphant said.
“Increasing the number of women employed in the industry helps us respond to skills needs, especially in high-growth regions like Shoalhaven, Illawarra and the South Coast.”
With demand surging thanks to the construction boom, Ms Bonner agrees now is the time for women to pick up a trade.
“My advice to other young women thinking of their future, is to look for what interests you, and don’t discount being in a trade. It’s less about being a girl in the workplace and more about finding the right place and the right role to work in. “I really like the work I’m doing, and there’s a lot of variety in this field so the more I try those different roles the more experience I’ll get.
“My TAFE studies are giving me a strong understanding of why and how things work, in a way that makes sense when I’m on the job. I’m getting the qualifications and experience I need to realise my dream.”
Explore career options in trades at TAFE NSW visit tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
Media contact: Adam Wright, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, 0466 375 552.