Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Ladies become tradies

An organisation with a difference held a workshop in Seymour last week.

CHALPAT SONTI May 21, 2014 3:06am

Year 9,10 and 11 Seymour College students who took part in the workshop along with mentors.


There’s been a lot of political rhetoric about the need for more skilled tradespeople, but half the problem might be that half the population is routinely ignored as potential workers.

Well, there’s a group out to change that, and they were in Seymour on Thursday.

Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen, better known as SALT, held a free workshop at the Community Performing Arts Centre that was designed to encourage women to start thinking about a trade as a career. It was held in association with Berry Street’s Engage program and the Office for Women.

Participants got an introduction to carpentry, painting and decorating, plumbing, fitting and turning and other trades.

But much more besides. SALT founder Fi Shewring, herself a painter and decorator, said it was also for women — or men — who just wanted to learn a skill.

‘‘There are useful skills for any woman,’’ she said.

‘‘It means not having to wait for someone else to do it for you. A lot of women would like to do something like this but there’s nothing for them. We’ve even taught men who have missed the boat as young blokes and have heard we’re running workshops.’’

Ms Shewring started SALT about five years ago initially as a support group for female tradies. She estimated there were about 5000 nationally, compared to more than 100000 men.

‘‘There’s basically no reason why women can’t work in trades,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve got women in every single trade. It’s not about gender, it’s about who can do the job. Companies don’t look to take women on or even think about it, but we’re very capable.’’

As is SALT. In the past 18 months it has trained females from age three to 96, the age record being broken last week. But the three-year-olds were an interesting story.

‘‘We were with them because the boys in their pre-school wouldn’t let girls play with dump trucks or in the sandpit,’’ Ms Shewring said.

‘‘But what we love seeing is women who come in and are tentative or not sure and who leave confident with grins on their faces and have made something with their own hands they’ll take home.’’

While the Seymour workshop was the last of a series, another round is planned for September, though venues are not yet known.

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