Girls eye better-paid ‘male’ trades

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: (Back from left) Tiffany Bennett from Connect, Emily Lewis, Grace Lewis, Loren Del Signore and (seated) Jessica Meade attend the Trading Places program launch in a Ballina High School trades room.
ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: (Back from left) Tiffany Bennett from Connect, Emily Lewis, Grace Lewis, Loren Del Signore and (seated) Jessica Meade attend the Trading Places program launch in a Ballina High School trades room. Graham Broadhead

LOREN Del Signore wants to be a truckie working in the mines when she leaves school.

The Ballina High School Year 10 student said her brother had gone off to the mines to work and she wanted to follow him.

She said there was an element of adventure in working in some of the outback mining areas - as well as the big money she could earn - and being female wasn't going to stop her.

She attended the launch at Ballina High School last week of the Trading Places program run by Connect.

Connect has received state funding from the Department of Family and Community Services to run the program.

Project manager Tiffany Bennett said the program aimed to help young girls who wanted to work in "non-traditional trades for women" achieve their goals.

Ms Bennett said the information session, which included talks from organ-isations partnering the program such as NovaSkill and WorkCover, aimed to be an "inspiration".

"There are still only a small number of women taking up non-traditional trades," she said, referring to areas such as plumbing, construction and electrical.

She said being a chef also was on that list. Chefs and gardeners were the top two "non-traditional trades" for women but participation was just 16.7% and 14% respectively.

The trades of bricklaying, refrigeration mechanic and tiler had "no representation" of women in the state.

Ms Bennett said male-dominated trades were generally better paid.

"Providing a wide range of viable career opportunities for girls and women is critical to ending the cycle of employment disadvantage and disparity," she said.

There were 27 girls from Ballina High, Alstonville High and Southern Cross School K-12 taking part in the program last week.

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