WOMEN working in the resource and defence industry in South Australia are getting the chance to develop their knowledge and skills in a bid to keep and encourage female workers in the industry.
A joint State Government and industry initiative is involving 60 women already working in the industry in a range of leadership workshops and programs to strengthen their abilities in mentoring other women throughout their work.
While support for women in these industries is growing, the sector remains male-dominated as only 8 per cent of staff is female.
Cavpower human resources manager and member of the Women Influencing the Defence and Resources Industries program Deb Norman says encouraging and developing women is an essential part of her job.
‘‘Strong female leadership within the industry is important to ensure increasing female participation in the workforce is encouraged, supported and is effective in contributing to the industry’s successful growth,’’ she says.
‘‘Female participation must increase if we are going to meet current and future demand.
‘‘From a business and economic perspective, it’s important for us to tap into under-utilised groups of people, like women.’’
Cavpower provides Caterpillar equipment and maintenance for South Australia and Broken Hill and while 13 per cent of their 500-strong workforce are women, many of these women are in traditional occupations. Ms Norman says the industry needs to understand the reasons why women choose to stay in the workforce and use that to encourage more women into the field.
‘‘As an industry, we need to look past what traditionally has been successful for the male-dominated workforce and consider what changes might be necessary to attract and retain more women,’’ she says. ‘‘Flexible or part-time working hours, different rosters or shift patterns and the location of work are all elements to consider.’’
The opportunity for women such as Cavpower apprentice diesel mechanic Brydee Martin to receive support and mentoring from Ms Norman is just one of the benefits of the program.
The 19-year-old, who is in the second year of her apprenticeship, originally from a farm in the state’s South-East, has always wanted to work with equipment outdoors.
‘‘Cavpower’s been really good,’’ she says.
‘‘Management’s door is always open, everyone’s been really supportive and looks out for me but they don’t expect any less of me, which is good’’.