WA Woman blasting through barriers

It’s fair to say Industrial Spray Painter and Blasting apprentice Jasmine Stewart is not your stereotypical tradie. In fact, she’s believed to be just one of two women in the industry in Western Australia.

Standing at 5”3 and with no prior trades experience, she was told during an initial interview that “most don’t last.” This never deterred Jasmine who in a traditionally male-dominated industry, met the challenge head on. “Being shorter and weighing less than my male counterparts doesn’t stop me from doing the same job as them. It’s all about knowing your capabilities and believing in yourself,” she said.

Based at Civmec Construction and Engineering in Henderson, Jasmine has not only stuck it out to complete two and a half years of her trade, but has achieved recognition for excellence, being named as a finalist for the Woman in Building and Construction Industry Apprentice of the Year at the 2023 Apprentice Employment Network Awards.

Working for Civmec at the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) on large-scale projects for BHP, Rio Tinto and the Australian Navy. Jasmine wants to see more females join the booming industry. She has taken on the role of a mentor, where she offers support and guidance to new female apprentices. “I thought there would be more women influencing trades, especially by 2023. Considering the opportunities, it’s surprising to see so few females in industrial coatings, “she said.

Jasmine always had an interest in art and spray painting, often working on modifications for her own car.

She approached Skill Hire, a recruitment and training agency part of the IntoWork Group, to explore apprenticeships in panel beating or painting. Taking into account the national Skills Priority list1, Skill Hire suggested an Industrial Spray Painting and Coating Apprenticeship instead.

Terry Doyle, an Apprentice and Skills Development Coach at Skill Hire, says he was instantly impressed by Jasmine’s talent and determination, “It’s a tough industry to break into because of its mobility and opportunity. It’s not pleasant, a lot don’t last and you’re paid well because you are able to do a tough job,” he said.

The physically demanding job, which involves ten and a half hour workdays and regular Saturday shifts, initially took a toll on her body, “There is a stigma around females in trades, especially when it comes to manual labour or being around machinery,” Jasmine explained. She continued, “Resilience is key. Despite the physical shock to my body during the first two weeks, I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to prove those who doubted me wrong.”

Industrial Blasting and Coating involves surface preparation, by blasting abrasive materials with a high-pressure hose, followed by the application of protective coatings or paint. It’s essential for materials used in industries such as manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, automotive and marine.

Terry plays a vital role in mentoring and guiding apprentices during their high-risk training at Civmec. He strongly believes that Jasmine’s presence is a significant step towards achieving greater diversity in the industry. “I take immense pride in Jasmine, she represents the future of our industry,” he said.

Reflecting on the last two years Jasmine says that the supportive mentors and training were crucial to her success, “If I didn’t have the support that I had initially, I probably would have been scared off. Everyone at Civmec and Terry from Skill Hire were there helping and making me feel comfortable and safe, it meant that I made it through those first two weeks.”

1 https://www.jobsandskills.gov.au/data/skills-priority-list?code=711211

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