Skilled on win­ner

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TRADES­PEO­PLE with trans­fer­able skills will be the prizewin­ners dur­ing the min­ing and de­fence ex­pan­sions.

SA Unions sec­re­tary Janet Giles says the state’s econ­omy is shift­ing from be­ing fo­cused on man­u­fac­tur­ing to min­ing and de­fence.

‘‘We’re go­ing to have to shift where the skills go,’’ she says.

‘‘That’s why it’s very im­por­tant that we de­velop skills that are trans­fer­able so if you’ve got a re­ally good ap­pren­tice, then they can go all over the place.’’

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‘‘There are a few role mod­els who started off as trades­peo­ple and who have gone on to build quite sub­stan­tial busi­nesses,’’ Mr Ste­wart says.

‘‘The op­por­tu­nity is there for all trades­peo­ple to build highly suc­cess­ful busi­nesses in this in­dus­try.’’

Mr Hard­ing says an­other at­trac­tive fea­ture to the in­dus­try is that the great pay di­vide be­tween men and women is non-ex­is­tent.

‘‘Cer­tainly there’s no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween the pay struc­ture be­cause of your sex,’’ he says.

‘‘It de­pends very much on what your abil­i­ties are and your speed at per­form­ing the task.’’

But women in the con­struc­tion work­force are still strug­gling to be equally recog­nised by their peers.

‘‘We have a num­ber of young fe­male ap­pren­tices but we have a long way to go in pro­mot­ing trades to fe­males and con­vinc­ing our own mem­bers that it’s worth­while to em­ploy fe­males,’’ Mr Hard­ing says.

‘‘It has been, for many hun­dreds of years, a male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sion and it takes time to change that per­cep­tion.’’

Mr Ste­wart says while fe­males are not typ­i­cally drawn to the build­ing and con­struc­tion in­dus­try, many are show­ing in­ter­est in such ar­eas as project man­age­ment, ar­chi­tec­ture and en­gi­neer­ing.

Oth­ers were tak­ing up po­si­tions in less labour-in­ten­sive roles such as paint­ing, til­ing and plumb­ing.

‘‘Tra­di­tion­ally girls haven’t been at­tracted to the in­dus­try and, in some ways, the in­dus­try doesn’t project it­self very well but the re­al­ity is that jobs such as paint­ing, til­ing and plumb­ing these days aren’t the back­break­ing jobs they used to be,’’ Mr Ste­wart says.

Self-em­ployed car­pen­ter Rose Squire has been in her trade for 30 years. She says while not all car­pen­ters are well paid, the po­ten­tial for earn­ing is un­lim­ited.

‘‘It de­pends on what ca­reer path some­one might choose to take,’’ she says. ‘‘If they head to­wards work­ing for a boss then they will only get award wages but if they start their own com­pany the sky’s the limit.’’

Mr Ste­wart says trades in con­struc­tion and build­ing have the added bonus of mak­ing the trades­per­son eas­ily em­ploy­able across the coun­try.

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