The future is bright for Australia’s next generation of female tradies

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
5 Min Read

The future is brighter than ever for Australia’s next generation of female tradies, with the girls taking home nearly all the accolades at the 2023 NSW Training Awards.

The skilled group of women did a near-clean sweep of the awards in Sydney, recognising excellence in vocational education and training (VET).

Seven female winners were announced across eight categories, with the girls taking home the Vocational, VET in schools, Trainee, Apprentice, Women in Trades and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander awards.

But an unprecedented number of female winners was no surprise to Wendy Pinch, founder of women in trades support organisation The Lady Tradie, who told Build-it the girls had paved the way for more women to enter the trade industry.

“These girls that won the award and topped their class are a fine example and role models for other girls thinking about learning a trade,” she said.

“Every woman has doubts about going into trade careers – wondering whether they’ll accepted or find a job, and it shows if you push past those doubts, you can succeed.”

Ms Pinch says the female dominance at the ceremony reflected the genuine interest and passion many women take to their chosen trades.

“That shows commitment straight away, for them to commit to the learning process in what is not a normal career path,” she told Build-it.

“You don’t generally come top of the class for something you are not passionate about.”

NSW Apprentice of the Year Caroline Morris was awarded for her exceptional performance in mechanical trade engineering, which has helped her become the first woman to complete a fitter machinist apprenticeship at her workplace in over two decades.

“I wanted to work with my hands, live regionally, and develop a future-proof career. An apprenticeship achieved all three goals,” she said.

“I want to show young people, especially young girls, that great opportunities are available for them in trades. Being trade-qualified opens doors for everyone.”

Trainee of the Year, Bridie Searle, says it was a passion for stem fields which encouraged her to choose a traineeship pathway, which has led her to manage million-dollar maritime projects.

“I’ve always been a hands-on learner. The balance of theory and practical work offers an unmatched training program – it was pivotal to my success,” Bridie said.

“When I reflect on the person and professional I’ve become during this traineeship, it fills me with pride. It’s been fantastic, and I’ve picked up so many skills that are transferable across multiple roles and industries.”

NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Skills, and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car says the winners excelled in their field.

“These amazing women are challenging the notion of male-dominated trades and are spearheading the way for other women to enter non-traditional industries,” she said.

Ms Pinch told Build-it she hoped the award would help change attitudes among industry employers, with some still waiting to hire female tradies.

“This is also a win for the employers who have, and will, take them on and mentored them as we can see they’ve smashed it,” she explained.

“It’s out the norm for some employers to take on females as some still don’t want to, and that’s slowly changing.”

The 2023 NSW Training Awards Individual Winners:

Award Category Winner Qualification Region
Vocational Tracie Wood Diploma of Project Management  North Coast
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Aaliyah Morley Certificate III in School-Based Education Support New England
VET in Schools Elizabeth King Certificate III in Health Services Assistance New England
School-Based Apprentice/Trainee Molly Smith Certificate III in Health Services Assistance New England
VET Trainer/Teacher Colin Taranto Timber System Design / Timber Frame or Truss Manufacture North Coast
Trainee Bridie Searle Certificate IV in Project Management Practice Central and Northern Sydney
Apprentice Caroline Morris Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade Western NSW
Women in Trades Celina Pellett Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production) Hunter and Central Coast
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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.

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