GOTAFE supporting women in trades
The Victorian State Government recently announced a new Women in Apprenticeships fund, which seeks to remove the barriers faced by women wanting to start a rewarding career in traditionally male-dominated trades like plumbing, electrical and aviation.
The $5 million fund will support 615 women into pre-apprenticeships, traineeships and apprenticeships and create a pipeline of skilled workers to help build Victoria’s future.
Among the initiatives recently launched include ‘Women in Electrical’ delivering 30 pre-apprenticeships. GOTAFE Trainer and Assessor Electrical Rochelle Sanders said that this will make more space for women in what has typically been a male-dominated industry.
Rochelle grew up on a hobby farm outside of Rutherglen with her younger sister and their parents.
One day the local electrician was working at their family home and asked if she wanted to help him wire up a power point.
“I hooked up my first power point when I was 16,” she said.
The local electrician later took her on for work experience, which is where she found her passion for all things electrical.
On reflection, Rochelle puts her success back onto the local electrician and her supportive family.
“For women to get into male dominated industries, they have to be self-motivated,” she said.
"If we can introduce to women the idea that they are mentally strong enough to do the job, girls won’t get told at a young age that they can’t do something."
During her apprenticeship, Rochelle worked with a lot of men who grew up believing women were meant to stay home and look after children – but that is changing, thanks to women like Rochelle.
“To get more women in trades, it is all about education,” she said.
“We have a new generation coming in, which tends to be a lot more open to change.
“The younger generations are a lot more flexible and fluid regarding gender.
“It will still be a man's world for many years to come, but we are paving the way for future generations.”
Women in Apprenticeships will be overseen by the Apprenticeships Victoria (AV), which is already helping reduce barriers for Victorian women looking to learn and earn in workplaces across the state.
Recently acting in the role of Plumbing and Electrical Coordinator, Michelle McNab is currently a Coordinator and Trainer and Assessor Information Technology at GOTAFE and is a finalist in the Victorian Training Awards, Trainer of the Year 2021.
“For the most part, I was able to do the job because I understood the GOTAFE way,” she said.
“I felt so honoured, being a woman and going into what’s traditionally a man's world – but I suppose that I do that every day in IT as well.”
The IT industry is still predominately male, however Michelle hopes to pave the way for change through advocating for women – especially those in her line of work.
“I’m pushing really hard for a program for women in IT,” she said.
“I was brought up wearing pink and was going to be a teacher or a nurse, but it’s different these days.
“There is still that stigma around gendered roles, and it needs to change.”
With regards to the education industry, Michelle feels that it will play a key role in stripping away the stigma surrounding women in trades.
“We need to run programs to introduce women to those typically male dominated fields and encourage them to join in if they enjoy it,” she said.
“That is something I hope to achieve with a program for women in IT.
“When they see they enjoy it and they can do it, they can see a career in that industry.
“Change takes time.
“We just have to encourage women that they can do it.”
Other initiatives include ‘try-a-trade’ days, wage support, peer support and mentorships, pathways for school leavers into the fire protection industry, online sessions connecting women with apprenticeships and traineeships, electrical, engineering and automotive apprenticeships, ICT traineeships and other pre-apprenticeship programs.
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