Skilled on winner
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.