Girls Can Too at TAFE NSW lets high school students experience trades

Students taking part in an automotive workshop.
Students taking part in an automotive workshop.

High school girls in Years 9 and 10 across the Macleay, Hastings and broader Mid North Coast regions descended on TAFE NSW Kempsey with career advisors to get hands on experience at the TAFE NSW Girls Can Too annual event in March.

Girls Can Too is an experiential 'try a trade' day for high school girls to try non-traditional trade pathways. The event is a partnership between Mid Coast Connect and TAFE NSW and has been facilitated at both TAFE NSW Taree and TAFE NSW Wauchope for the past four years.

The 43 students had an opportunity to get their hands dirty in automotive, engineering, horticulture and construction with a series of workshops. The day culminated with a Women in Trades Forum which had six tradeswomen share their experiences and passion for their respective trades.

Students engrossed in a construction workshop.

Students engrossed in a construction workshop.

The construction session was facilitated by the talented team of female tradies from the Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen's team (SALT), an organisation which supports and provides a proactive network for tradeswomen, apprentices and women with aspirations to enter a trade and 'try before they buy'.

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Guest speakers included Sam Edwards, a TAFE NSW Kempsey graduate who owns an automotive repair workshop in South West Rocks and participates in professional drag racing; Macleay Valley engineering and horticultural tradeswoman Wendy McAffley, who manages a horticulture production farm at Nulla Nulla and a blacksmithing business; and electrician Brydie Maro who also is a snake handler.

The women inspired and motivated the students to dream big about their future and to think outside the box about what their life may look like.

TAFE NSW Services Manager, Maura Luxford, said the day was a huge success, with many students leaving the event having greater confidence in the career direction they wanted to pursue.

"Hands on experience inspires young women to open their minds to futures they hadn't considered. To see and hear first-hand from women who have trod a similar path and succeeded is pure gold when deciding a career direction," Maura said.

"A highlight was hearing inspired feedback from the girls who removed tyres in automotive sessions, had a virtual reality experience on a welding simulator in engineering, learned about horticulture, divided and potted up their own plants to take home and built their own wooden cutlery caddy for home too," said Maura.

The day ended with a lucky prize draw of a pink tool kit donated by Mid Coast Connect and six other prizes.

The 43 girls walked away with more than just the projects they'd built that day, they left with ideas and aspirations for the future.

For more detail on TAFE NSW courses, face-to-face or online, visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.

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