Skilled courses for women to become tradespeople

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Auckland, April 17, 2017

Women with a passion to work outdoors as a builder, plumber, electrician, or in other trades, now have a chance to try it out – and get a job.

A great start

Twenty women started an inaugural course dedicated to getting more women in to trades yesterday (April 19, 2017).

Called ‘Nailing It,’ the range of real jobs the women will do includes things like building a pizza oven, learning to back a trailer and how to pour concrete, as well as getting an introduction to reading site plans and how to do layouts, or tackling interior fit outs.

They will also get a chance to earn their site safe certificate and to achieve the next level of their driver’s licence.

Christina Rogstad, Owen Lingard and Veronica White have co-founded Destination Trades after recognising a mismatch between New Zealand’s urgent need for more tradespeople during the current construction boom and the huge pool of female talent being overlooked.

Demand for tradespeople

There are less than 2% of women employed in the building and related trades according to Department of Statistics New Zealand figures from 2013.

Rogstad has seen a similar trade training scheme for women in Canada produce results that not only changed individual women’s lives, but that of their families and even whole indigenous communities.

“The flow on effect of a woman getting a job that makes her happy and productive, and that brings more money into the family, is immeasurable,” Ms Rogstad said.

The first course is based at Auckland’s MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology) Otara campus, but it has a major difference from usual lessons – the ‘classroom’ has no walls and no desks. Destination Trades has set up a ‘learning building site’ on MIT’s fields that utilises shipping containers for secure storage of equipment and a portacom, just like a normal construction site.

Ms White said that the support of MIT, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and industry has been vital to getting the project off the ground.

“It might be 40 years on since New Zealand saw the ‘girls can do anything’ campaign, but women still traditionally look to retail and places like call centres. There are 49,000 jobs on construction alone in this country and employers are screaming out for workers, yet they mostly overlook the huge talent pool of women. Where they do employ women, they find they are productive, reliable and safer with equipment,” she said.

Dynamic Course

During the course, the women will get to go on site visits to potential employers, including Fletcher Building, which says it would immediately welcome a larger pool of skilled workers.

Fletcher Building Chief People and Communications Officer Ms Daly said that her company is focused on supporting women in construction and is passionate about attracting a diverse team of talented high quality employee.

“We think it is great that Destination Trades gives women an opportunity to have a real-life work experience so they are better able to make the choice to join the construction industry. There are many misconceptions about our industry and we welcome all initiatives that show people what a good industry it is to work,” she said.

The Destination Trades trio say they already have interest for other courses, either targeting a particular job or trade, or a group of paying students.


Photo Caption:

  1. Group Photo of women at the launch of the ‘Women in Trades’ Course on April 19
  2. Jasmine, Rea and Felicia set to become skilled tradespeople.

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