Girls explore the world of trades at Taree TAFE

THE message is clear.Girls can follow whichever career path they choose and shouldn’t let anyone else tell them otherwise.About 40 girls in years nine and 10 from schools across the region attended a Girls Can Too day at North Coast TAFE Taree campus where they had a taste of non-traditional careers and heard from women successfully working in those trades.

From engineering to construction, automotive, horticulture and a trade fun factor (photo booth) the teenagers had a fun and informative day where they learnt new skills, met new people and were introduced to non-traditional trades where women are underrepresented in the workplace.Mid Coast Connect received funding under the NSW Government’s Investing in Women program to run three workshop days across the region (Taree was the third, others were held in Port Macquarie and Kempsey), and the organisation partnered with TAFE to make it happen.“It’s been a pretty fun day.

I’ve enjoyed it,” said Mackenzie Peacock from Great Lakes College Tuncurry Campus.

“We’ve learnt how to get a tyre off a car, how to weld, how to put wood together, had fun in the photobooth, learnt about plants and looked at horses and tractors.”

Charlotte Lloyd from Manning Valley Anglican College agreed it was a worthwhile experience.

“It has been really enjoyable and interesting.”Maddie West, also from the Anglican College, said it was great to experience things that are “usually categorised as ‘guy’ jobs”.

The students rotated around five different activities before coming together in the afternoon for a Women in Industry forum, where they heard from women successfully working in these non-traditional fields.Regional business manager for the NRMA Heidi Novosell was encouraging in her words.

“I’m the first woman who has ever been “allowed” to be in this position (at the NRMA).

“It only takes one person to give you an opportunity and if you take it with passion and work hard, the world’s your oyster.”She said when she was in year 10 she had the highest mark in metalwork and was told by a teacher she shouldn’t continue with it. 

Today, she wishes she hadn’t listened.“If you love it and are passionate, don’t let someone else tell you that you can’t do it.

”Chloe Rumbelow, a student of the Newman Technical College is following the metal and engineering path and has already gained employment with Bennetts Steel in Wauchope.“Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do,” she told the students, explaining that what she had really wanted to do was automotive and regrets not going into that field.“Go for it, if that’s what you want.”Owner of Bennetts Steel, Tanya Newman, talked about her working life, which began in hairdressing and saw her own a restaurant and be a chef before working at Bennetts Steel to help her parents out and then eventually becoming the business’s owner.“Follow your gut. Go with what you want to do.”

Renowned horticulturist Delwyn Thomas spoke about her career trajectory, saying when she was young she wanted to be a florist but was discouraged because “the industry was too hard.” She worked in an office but at 21 she met a woman studying horticulture and went back to school to study (her mother looking after her young baby while she was at school).Her career has been varied, including retail, marketing, floristry, horticulture and she went on to write a horticulture textbook now used by TAFE.

“Just do it. Every step is a learning opportunity...step out feeling good...you’ll be on top of the world,” she said.Toni-Lee Palmer from Mid Coast Connect said students from each school across the region were invited to attend with students from Taree High, Manning Valley Anglican College, Great Lakes College Tuncurry Campus and Gloucester High taking up the opportunity.

“It gives them a taste of different industries and see if they like it and then they can take up TVET subjects in year 11 and 12,” she said.“These are areas women normally don’t go into and we are giving them a go.”

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