It’s a scene as incongruous as it is intriguing – a dozen women decked out in goggles and wielding welding torches.
That’s precisely the scene at TAFE NSW Young on Thursday nights, as a women’s welding class continues to spark serious interest in the town. The 12-week Statement of Attainment in Welding (Basic) was offered for the first time earlier this year and the dozen places were filled almost immediately, with a waiting list blowing out to 30.
The second incarnation of the course is in its final weeks and TAFE NSW Young Acting Head Teacher of Metal Fabrication and Welding, Mark Silk, said the popularity of the course continued to astound. “In the first course, a lot of the ladies were off the land but in this course, we have bankers, retirees and others from a whole range of backgrounds,” Mr Silk said.
“Some of the ladies off the land have seen welding being done in the farm workshop and want to have a crack but other participants are just curious and see it as a new skill and a creative outlet. The class is an extremely supportive environment and the women really encourage each other. It helps that there’s not a bunch of know-it-all blokes looking over their shoulders.”
As part of the course, participants learn the fundamentals of welding and complete a personal project, such as a metal fire bucket.
Emma Godsell, an apprentice boilermaker and TAFE NSW Young student, acts as an unofficial mentor to the ladies during the classes and said it was inspiring to watch their progress. “I was really impressed by their level of interest and ability and it just confirmed to me that women are just as capable as men at these types of trades,” Ms Godsell said. “I would really encourage any female considering a career in a traditionally male trade to not be afraid and just have a go.”
Mr Silk urged young people of both genders to consider a career in metal fabrication, with local apprentices undertaking a Certificate III in Engineering Trade Fabrication at TAFE NSW Young. “The local industry in the Riverina is screaming out for apprentices, they can’t fill all the jobs,” Mr Silk said. A recent report titled Jobs of the Future found 72 per cent of manufacturing businesses surveyed in the Riverina reported a skills shortage.
To find out more about the courses available for Semester 1 2019, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au