Women filling the tradie skills gap on the border

Seeing female workers on the tools is becoming more commonplace on the border, thanks to two local businesses that are leading the way in supporting females into male dominated trades.

Farben Painting & Decorating in Albury, and Symmetrix Electrical in Corowa, have recently employed female apprentices and are delighted with the contribution they are making to their businesses.

Business Manager for Farben Painting & Decorating, Victoria Larkin, has appointed two female apprentices in the past year to help fill a skill gap they are experiencing.

“There’s a huge shortage of qualified painters on the border so we recruit apprentices every six months and train them up to help fill that gap,” Mrs Larkin said.

“We’re seeing more and more women apply for these apprenticeships, and in my experience, they are often the strongest applicants.

“Young women make brilliant tradespeople. They have wonderful attention to detail and are great communicators. But there’s still a perception among people that jobs in trades are for ‘the boys’.

“It is not about strength, weight or height requirements. For our business, it’s about culture. This includes worksite leadership, mentoring, conversations with the tradies on the tools, and leading by example from the top down. We’ve never had a problem; the women hold their own and the men are very accepting of them within the team.

“Our two apprentices, Latisha and Cassie, are doing a wonderful job and are learning so much from our team. I would employ another female apprentice in a heartbeat, if they were the strongest applicant,” Mrs Larkin said.

Matt Mahon from Symmetrix Electrical in Corowa has had a similar experience, after employing female apprentice, Beccy, to work as an Electrotechnology Electrician.

“Beccy approached us last year for work experience and from day one it was clear that her attention to detail and initiative were valuable assets to the team,” he said.

“We were pleased to see Beccy throw her hat into the ring when it was time for us to put on another apprentice.

“We had lots of women apply for the apprenticeship which is great for the industry – I think it’s a sign that times are changing,” Mr Mahon said.

Both businesses worked with VERTO in Albury to sign up their apprentices. VERTO is a provider of the Australian Government’s Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) Program across all parts of NSW.

VERTO’s Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said the skills shortage in Australia is creating demand for more women to carve out careers in trade industries.

“You don’t have to look far back into our past to find a time when the traditional trades, such as plumbing, carpentry and electrical, were 100% male. A shift is taking place, but it’s not happening fast enough,” he said.

“This largely untapped market has the potential to save our trade industries, especially as they begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need more businesses to take the lead of Farben Painting & Decorating and Symmetrix Electrical and create opportunities for more women to have successful careers in non-traditional trades,” Mr Maxwell said.

We encourage women looking to get started in an apprenticeship to visit www.careergate.org.au or phone 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786).