NSW Department of Education runs SALT workshop

Twenty-two Walcha Central School female students ranging from years 7 to 12 enjoyed a day on the tools on Wednesday.

The workshop, run by SALT (Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen) in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education, aimed to encourage young women to consider a career in a trade.

The event was run by experienced tradeswomen from a range of industries, able to share their real-life experiences. 

Walcha Central School Industrial Arts teacher Tony Bozza said there were more girls than ever before taking his classes.

Tony Bozza at WCS SALT workshop 2018

SALT was established in 2009, and took to the road with its custom-built trailer in 2011. So far the workshops have been conducted at 136 sites across four states, and the response has been good.

“One student at Tenterfield High is keen to become a motorcycle mechanic, so she had a good one-on-one conversation with one of our members who’s a heavy vehicle mechanic,” program coordinator Fi Shewring said.

The task for the day was to build a personalised caddy that could be used for a variety of purposes, but more importantly required a number of techniques in its construction.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” Ms Shewring said. “It’s rare to receive a rating from the girls less than eight out of 10. Usually it’s nines and 10s.”

The group receives some funding but there’s a huge volunteer contribution.

“We love bring the workshops to rural areas,” Ms Shewring said.

Over the past decade she’s seen a shift towards more girls considering a trade career and employers are all for it, recognising that diversity in the workplace produces better outcomes and working environments.

“We want to broaden what young women think of as a career. They’re likely to need to work, so they may as well enjoy it and earn good money. They should be engineering a career path.”

Ms Shewring said even those not interested in pursuing a trade have much to gain from the workshops, she said.

“Learning to use tools is a big advantage. It’s a life skill.”