19-year old Emma Gibson is not your typical heavy machinery mechanic, but with International Women’s Day being celebrated tomorrow, she wants to encourage more females to do a trade.
Through her host employer Select Plant Hire, Gibson spends her days fixing and maintaining the large machinery that lays the rails and packs the ballast.
Gibson says that while the job is not glamorous, more females should take up a non-traditional trade.
“It’s a filthy job. You nails and hair are a mess by the end of the day but it’s good fun and the work is both challenging and rewarding,” Gibson said.
As well as working as an apprentice fitter machinist, the Singleton resident also has a part-time job washing trucks and is preparing to go for her truck licence, a dream she has held since she was 10 years old.
And with a large mining industry in the Hunter Valley looking to employ more women, there will be no limits to how far Gibson wants to take her trade skills.
“My dad is a fitter machinist and I’ve always been interested in trucks and cars. I love that my job is a bit different and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Gibson said.
While there are increasing numbers of females taking up roles in male dominated industries, the figures show more work needs to be done.
According to the ABC Labour Force Australia data, women currently make up only 13 per cent of trade apprentices and trainees in NSW and less than 2 per cent of all automotive, engineering, construction and electro-technology trade workers are female.
Just over 2 per cent of all HVTC apprentices in traditionally male-dominated trades are female.
HVTC CEO Sharon Smith said as Australia’s oldest and largest group training organisation, HVTC was passionate about leading the way and increasing the number of women working in non-traditional trades.
“The greatest challenge for women chasing non-traditional occupations is defying out-dated views that gender affects a person’s capacity to successfully perform and excel at certain jobs,” Smith said.
“We want to encourage more women to take up training in fields such as mechanical and electrical.
“Many jobs requiring these skills are in high-demand are well-paid, and offer both women and men satisfying, flexible and inspiring careers.”
If you know a young apprentice doing great things is mining – nominate her for the 2014 Women in Industry Awards : http://womeninindustry.com.au/