Young women empowered to join electrical industry

NECA/National Electrical & Communications Association

Tuesday, 14 June, 2022

Young women empowered to join electrical industry

With only 8% of licensed electricians in Australia being female, according to recent Workplace Gender Equality Agency figures, the National Electrical and Communications Association’s (NECA) Women-in-Power program has been specifically designed to remove industry barriers by providing female high school students and school leavers with the skills and knowledge required to secure an apprenticeship.

In the final year of her Electrical Apprenticeship with NECA, Tiana Cameron is one of many young women who have joined the industry through the Women-in-Power program. She said, “It’s important to realise that, in a male-dominated industry, you can actually do everything and do it well. It’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be. NECA’s Women-in-Power program was brilliant.”

NECA is bridging the gender diversity gap within the electrical industry through a variety of initiatives aimed at educating young women about the trades. The association hosts a range of workshops, pre-apprenticeship programs (such as the Women-in-Power program) and educational seminars to encourage young women to join the electrical industry.

“NECA is excited and proud to be supporting more women, like these skilled apprentices, to enter the electrical trades. Improving gender diversity across the industry is a key goal of ours,” said NECA Project Manager Michelle Ellis.

“We support innovative programs that assist in addressing gender imbalance in the construction industry and, like our Women-in-Power program, encourage young women to realise a vocational pathway into the industry.”

Ellis commended the ACT Government’s recent $1 million commitment to the Understanding Building and Construction Program for early learning about the construction industry in schools. Being piloted with four ACT high schools, the program is geared towards students in Years 7–10.

A group of five female NECA apprentices from the ACT recently met to share their feedback on a range of industry issues faced by women within the electrical industry, with the group agreeing that “the electrical industry needs to be talked about more in high schools” and that “careers advisers need to promote females in the electrical trades more”. Participants recommended providing access to more female trade networks like the Women-in-Power program and Build Like a Girl, founded in 2020 by ACT-based builder Jo Farrell.

The group also discussed their experiences within the industry. First-year electrical apprentice Piri Songsara said, “It’s very interesting. I feel empowered. The tradies are welcoming, and I feel I can learn from them.”

When asked to provide advice to other women or girls considering an electro trade, every one of the participants was enthusiastic.

“Go for it!” Songsara said. “Even if you think you can’t, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Image caption: Women-in-Power program participants. Image credit: NECA.

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