As apprenticeship numbers continue to grow in WA, one company is setting its own high targets with a focus on encouraging more women into trades.
Byrnecut, an internationally renowned specialist underground mining contractor, currently has eight female apprentices on staff in WA and is placing a big emphasis on recruiting more apprentices and trainees, supported by CCIWA’s Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA).
About five per cent of the company’s apprentices are female, which is a significant increase from previous years. “Women provide an entirely different way of looking at trades and life itself,” says Russell Sneddon, Byrnecut Apprentice Coordinator Perth. “This provides another way to analyse issues and come up with different solutions to problems the trade presents.”
Sneddon says it is “hugely important” to encourage more women to take up a trade.
“We are dedicated to elevating female representation in the mining industry and creating pathways to solid and successful careers that they are absolutely capable of,” he says.
He says this starts with inspiring younger girls to start thinking about apprenticeships as a career pathway when they are at school. “Businesses can and must step up in this regard,” he says.
“Young girls need to hear from people such as myself about the opportunities present and how to best position yourself to be able to grasp those opportunities.
“Make it known that they are treated exactly the same as a young boy in the same position. Also, as with boys, let people know that there are perfectly good career paths available besides going to university.”
Sneddon says the biggest misconceptions about women in trades include a lack of support on the worksite, too much “boys club” behaviour, and not enough being done to help women feel valued and comfortable at work.
“These are being constantly addressed and improved,” he says, adding that more conversations with other women in trades and educational material on what life is actually like on a work/mine site may also help dispel misconceptions.
Sneddon says ASA has always been there when support is needed.
“They go above and beyond to help us make our employees as comfortable as possible and offer another layer of support, particularly for the younger apprentices,” he says.
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