Image: TAKING CHARGE: Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs is holding a funnel, which by the time she gets to the end of the 12 month Girls of Steel training course she will be able to make herself.
Source: The Border Mail, Written by: Victoria Ellis, Photograph: James Wiltshire.
Wangaratta’s Brittany Gibbs takes leap into Girls of Steel course
A young Wangaratta woman is determined to set her career on a non-traditional new path by completing an engineering training course being run for the first time.
Brittany Gibbs will next week start the Girls of Steel program, which teaches young women from disadvantaged backgrounds foundational engineering skills in a hands-on, workplace-based training environment and connects them with a job at the end.
Ms Gibbs left school after year 10 and has many jobs, including in administration and hospitality, but none of them stuck.
“I like hospitality, but I’m a bit over it now,” she said.
“Hopefully I get an apprenticeship afterwards and then I can go into the mines in a few years.”
Ms Gibbs said that she’d found it hard to find full time ongoing work, but she hoped the course would be the first step in a lifelong career.
“I wouldn’t mind starting a business creating fire pits,” she said.
The program will be run by The Skill Engineer social enterprise with $1.2 million of federal government funding.
Director Brendan Ritchens said the course would help women into engineering, a male-dominated industry.
“Often for young women it’s not a consideration because they’ve been told it’s not a job for them, whereas it simply is,” he said.
“I have young women who are apprentices at my work and they do every bit, they are better apprentices than most of the guys I’ve got. The gender thing isn’t and shouldn’t, be an issue.”
Nationally, just over 12 per cent of the engineering labour workforce is female.
Ms Gibbs said it was harder for young women to get into the industry.
“It’s taken me until I’m 22 to push myself to do it,” she said.
“Unless you kind of grow up around it, it can be hard to do something different. I was a bit nervous getting into something when there’s just men; I think because there’s more competition because you’ve got to sort of prove yourself to them. When I was getting shown all the stuff on the computer I was like, ‘that’s awesome, I want to do that’,” she said.
Mr Ritchens, an engineer himself, said it would be an opportunity for participants to learn an “exceptional trade”.
“The other pastoral care side of this is teaching the participants how to turn up on time, how to behave in the workplace, dress appropriately, create that work ethic,” he said.
“The hours will support any women that may have young children, so they don’t have to pay for childcare.”
He said he wanted participants to finish the course ready for the workplace, so he’d also support participants to get their driver licence, teach them business acumen and budgeting.
“It’s a more rounded course,” he said.
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