BREAKING down traditional thought processes, Orange Business Chamber project manager Tamara James says choice and the removal of stereotyped barriers will open occupational doors for young women in the region.
Kick-starting the Strengthen your workforce - Think outside the status quo - Think Women project, Mrs James believes a strengthened relationship between schools, employers, community and industry bodies will help usher in a new generation of female workers.
Beginning last month and set to run throughout 2014, the project has received $25,000 funding from the NSW Government with the aim of exposing more school-aged women to trades, particularly in the automotive and construction industries.
“Something I’m quite passionate about is employment and I think this is a great opportunity, especially out here in central NSW,” Mrs James said, adding some barriers do exist, but jumping the lingering hurdles will be worth the challenge.
“Young women don’t know how to engage and get a start in those kind of industries.
“They think they won’t be considered equal on a job application or employers might think ‘we just don’t know how to handle a female in the workplace’.”
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said the funding would help girls take advantage of the opportunity that comes with moving into skilled employment as well helping to ease the shortage of skilled workers across NSW.
Statistics obtained by the NSW Government’s family and community services revealed a remarkably low percentage of women were employed in trades.
There are 199 female motor mechanics employed in NSW, that’s 0.8 per cent of the 26,923 working in the industry statewide.
Of the others, 14 per cent of the gardening trade is female, 8.9 per cent of the shearing workforce are women and few to no ladies work as greenkeepers, glaziers, automotive electricians or panelbeaters.
Just 16.7 per cent of the state’s 21,000 chefs are women.
Orange High School principal David Lloyd admitted he was surprised by some of those statistics and said it was vital schools across the region backed the program.
“It’s important for our students to be aware of different possibilities and the support available to enter non-traditional careers,” he said.
“Having the opportunity with this partnership to go and work in a non-traditional workplace has tremendous potential to be able to inspire.”
Anyone interested in the program can contact Mrs James via firstname.lastname@example.org.