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AGA, part of the IntoWork Group, is leading the way for women in trades, with 12.6 per cent of its building and construction apprentices being women compared to the industry average of less than 3 per cent1.
With women in trades historically being underrepresented in the industry, AGA has delivered programs such as Solar Apprenticeships for Women and Women in Trades, to encourage and support women to pursue a career in non-traditional trades.
Ashlee Richardson is one woman who secured an apprenticeship thanks to AGA’s Solar Apprenticeships for Women program. The program is a four-year electrical apprenticeship funded by Solar Victoria which is designed to boost the number of women in the solar heating and cooling industry.
Ashlee was drawn to a career in trades after seeing her brothers succeed in their respective trades. She was able to explore her interest and get hands on skills and experience through the AGA program, which led to an apprenticeship with Sunny Solar Installation and Cleaning. She became the first female apprentice in the company’s history.
Sunny Solar Installations & Cleaning Manager Rick Bell said he didn’t think twice about bringing Ashlee into his predominantly male workforce, “Ashlee fits in well here and can do everything from wiring up switchboards to roof work and laying panel. She does just as much as what the guys do here,” he said.
AGA’s Women in Trades program has been instrumental in supporting women like Sascha Williams into a trade. The free eight-week Trade Taster course provides practical skills and experience in trades including electrical, plumbing, welding and carpentry.
Sascha had worked in various jobs and industries but desired a hands-on career with long-term prospects. Through Women in Trades, the 24-year-old was connected with a group of 15 like-minded women who explored a career in trades in an inclusive, supportive environment, “I found a lot of support through the Women in Trades program as I met other women who were similar to me, and had the same fears, hesitancy and experience as me,” Sascha said.
A total of 95 women have successfully completed training since the program’s inception with many moving directly into apprenticeships, and the remainder provided ongoing support and opportunities through both AGA and the broader In-toWork Group’s range of services and programs.
AGA CEO Leeann Rayner said with the right support and opportunities, women can excel in a trade career, “At AGA we actively promote women in trades and prioritising multi-industry pre-employment courses for women seeking to explore the trade industry. We have qualified female trainers in both electrical and carpentry who deliver the courses and under-stand the unique challenges (and benefits) that women face in non-traditional trades,” she said.
Leeann attributed the success of AGA in recruiting and retaining woman to their strong focus on diversity and inclusion, the continuous support provided by their field officers to promote retention, and the support offered to their host employ-ers. Programs like AGA’s create opportunities for women to enter traditionally male-dominated industries and provide them with the necessary support to thrive.
Leeann said it was time to change the status quo and meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the state, “We are constantly promoting women in trades. Pre-employment programs give women the opportunity to learn different skills whilst trying out the different trades whether it be electrical, carpentry, plumbing or welding.”
The Women in Trades program is an initiative of Apprenticeships Victoria and supported by Apprenticeship Employment Network. For more information, go to https://www.aga.com.au/women-in-trades/.
For more information on AGA’s Solar Apprenticeships for Women program, go to https://www.aga.com.au/solar-ap-prenticeships-women/.
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