Trades lure for work­ers

It has never been a bet­ter time for age-old trade work, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin re­ports.

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CHANG­ING stereo­types, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and a re­turn to high salaries is mak­ing many tra­di­tional trades at­trac­tive to a broader range of work­ers.

To ad­dress to­day’s skill short­ages and competition for staff, many roles are go­ing to have to con­tinue to lure more non-tra­di­tional work­ers into oc­cu­pa­tions.

Many of the state’s tra­di­tional oc­cu­pa­tions have evolved amid im­prov­ing tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­nity attitude change to emerge now in a stronger po­si­tion than they were 100 years ago.

Some oc­cu­pa­tions, such as wicker work­ers and brass moul­ders, have all but dis­ap­peared from the work­force in the past cen­tury through a lack of de­mand and tech­nol­ogy. But this has been un­able to re­place many tra­di­tional trade roles, such as brew­ers, milliners and con­fec­tion­ers.

Build­ing trades work­ers, such as plum­bers, brick­lay­ers and car­pen­ters, have ex­pe­ri­enced a resur­gence to re­turn as among the high­est paid and in de­mand trades­peo­ple in SA.

Many tra­di­tional trades now re­quire a for­mal ter­tiary or ap­pren­tice­ship qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Women in­creas­ingly are em­ployed in male­dom­i­nated trades.

But en­cour­ag­ing and de­vel­op­ing fe­male tal­ent and stronger pay for work­ers in other trades such as butch­ers and bak­ers will en­sure work­ers con­tinue to seek out tra­di­tional trade ca­reers.

Na­tional In­sti­tute of Labour Stud­ies di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Kostas Mavro­maras says there still are some bar­ri­ers to in­creas­ing the pool of tal­ent for trades. He says par­tic­i­pa­tion sta­tis­tics sup­port an in­creas­ing ac­cep­tance in the labour mar­ket for women to do jobs which in the past were male-dom­i­nated roles.

brewer but that still is a rare oc­cu­pa­tion choice for women. SA Brew­ing Com­pany, how­ever, has two women – tech­ni­cal brewer Bron­wyn Cald­well, 35, and t e c h n i c a l o f f i c e r Anna Ruszkiewicz, 27 – out of 20 brew­ers forg­ing ca­reers.

Ms Cald­well was in­ter­ested in a prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ca­reer and ap­plied for a role which hap­pened to be at a brew­ery.

In be­com­ing a brewer, she com­pleted a ter­tiary de­gree in food science and di­ploma of brew­ing. ‘‘The process is quite com­pli­cated. You need a gen­eral un­der­stand­ing across many dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines,’’ she says.

She says it has not been dif­fi­cult to work in the tra­di­tion­ally male do­main, es­pe­cially as many associated staff are women.

Ms Ruszkiewicz com­pleted chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing and fi­nance ter­tiary de­grees to pur­sue a ca­reer in the food and bev­er­age in­dus­try.

A work-ex­pe­ri­ence place­ment at a brew­ery sparked her in­ter­est in brew­ing and brought her back to the field af­ter she worked in an­other in­dus­try for three years.

She now is study­ing the di­ploma of brew­ing and says men can out­num­ber women nine to one at brew­eries but there is no gen­der di­vide pro­hibit­ing f emale brew­ers. ‘‘For me, it was more of a grad­ual tran­si­tion from my past ex­pe­ri­ences,’’ she says.

Pic­ture: Tait Schmaal

SA Brew­ing Com­pany’s Anna Ruszkiewicz and Bron­wyn Cald­well.

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