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Women Encouraged to Look at Trades in Christchurch

For immediate release – 30/8/11

Women Encouraged to Look at Trades in Christchurch

Women are being encouraged to consider retraining or choosing a career in trades as the industry gears up to meet the demand for a skilled workforce that will rebuild Christchurch.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Hekia Parata will speak at CPIT on Wednesday evening at a networking event designed to promote and support women in trades. At the time of the last census roughly 1% of tradespeople in New Zealand were women. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is keen to improve on this figure by supporting women in trades and encouraging women to consider a trades career.

The opportunities for women tradespeople have never been better according to local trade educators and women in trades.

Fiona Haynes was Dean of Trades at CPIT for seven years until only recently when she took up another position in the institute. “The biggest barrier to women entering trades is the perception of parents and teachers who still tend to steer female students into other areas, or if they are thinking about trades, then it’s hospitality or hairdressing,” she said.

“We need to get women to understand the opportunities that are there for them. They can run their own business; they can tailor it around child care.”

Fiona said a more inclusive culture has developed in trades training. “Initiatives aimed at supporting girls coming into the trades in the institute work for the boys too. The pastoral care is there. It’s a safe working environment. We are using a whanau system so every student is interviewed with whanau and we have information evenings for the families – I don’t think people understand the level of support that is there”

The girls coming through the trades programmes complete their studies and are “snapped up” by industry. “In carpentry they tend to move quickly into supervision or management roles,” Fiona said, though the biggest demand at the moment is in the plastics industry. “There is no heavy lifting and it is well paid,” Fiona said. “It is definitely worth considering, for high school leavers and for those women who may have lost their jobs as a result of the earthquakes.”

Sandie Chamberlain is a painter and decorator and the only woman tutor at CPIT’s trades campus. She completed her apprenticeship in the UK and has managed heritage sites. Sandie has noticed less women on trades sites than in the UK and is looking forward to helping to train new tradeswomen for the local industry - her current class is 50% female.

Women make excellent painters and decorators, Sandie said. “They have a good eye for detail and they want to get it right the first time,” she said. “The banter is fun and the physical work is good for you.”

The Canterbury networking event for tradeswomen is on Wednesday 31 August, 5.30 - 7.00pm at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology Student Services Building, Trades Innovation Institute Campus, Ensors Rd.

ENDS

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