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Trade ties: Creating connections and fostering careers

Trade ties: Creating connections and fostering careers

Empowered Women in Trades’ Melinda Davis highlights the value of jobs and career exhibitions in fostering careers in trades.

By Melinda Davis, COO of Empowered Women in Trades.

May seemed to be the month of jobs and career exhibitions around the country. The team at Empowered Women in Trades (EWIT) attended many events. Jobs and career exhibitions are unique; they bring many industry connections into one place at one time with the primary purpose of connection, learning new information and building your knowledge. However, if you don’t nail the purpose of being there, they can also come at a big cost in time, money and value.

I want to introduce you to the Trades & Tech Fit Expo run in Melbourne by the team at Head Start and funded by the Victorian Department of Education, where the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre comes to life over two days in May. Unlike other events, the unique attribute of this event is that it is only for female and non-binary secondary school students across the state who come to explore the world of trades and learn about career opportunities and pathways. In its third year, this event continues to grow in momentum with the exhibition in 2024 attracting registrations from 128 schools (up from 119 in 2023), 103 exhibitors (up from 85 in 2023) and attendance of over 3,000 female and non-binary students across the two days. The excitement from the students is always palpable as they enter through the doors.

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“I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend, I didn’t think I would be interested in technology or trades but having come here today and tried so many different things, especially the AR/VR activities, I am reconsidering my options,” said one female Year 9 student.

We are often asked how organisations can get involved in these kinds of events and programs, and we do need industry support to achieve the kinds of success that are needed to make permanent change.

Empowered Women in Trades team member Caryn supporting a student at the Trades & Tech Fit Expo.
Empowered Women in Trades team member Caryn supporting a student at the Trades & Tech Fit Expo.

We have just launched a new initiative to allow businesses that wish to support us and the programs we run to bring more women into skilled trades. Called Alliance Membership, it provides an opportunity for all organisations, large and small, to directly support EWIT programs. Alliance Members promote their support of a diverse skilled workforce through the activities we provide the industry, and their support enables us to focus on the many programs we offer, including attracting more school-aged kids to consider careers in skilled trades. If you would like to find out more about Alliance membership, visit the EWIT website.

In the recently announced Federal budget, $55.6 million dollars has been allocated to the Building Women’s Careers initiative. These projects aim to support women in pursuing high paying careers in key male-dominated industries and sectors, particularly construction, clean energy, technology and digital, and manufacturing. A crucial aspect of the plan should be to draw inspiration from the successes in Victoria and focus on building a pipeline of emerging female talent from schools wanting to be part of the skills solution.

Creating a safe and inclusive space for female and non-binary students from different cultures and demographic backgrounds to explore traditionally male-dominated industries with some of the biggest skills shortages around the country is imperative as we work to future-proof building and construction and connect more women to construction.

The EWIT team is looking forward to delivering more school-based programs in partnership with Freestyle by North Melbourne Football Club to continue being part of the solution as we move towards the vision of having 30 per cent of trades roles filled by women by 2030.

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