CQU's female sparkies encourage others to consider a trade for International Women's Day

08 March 2023

CQUniversity’s Head of Course for Electrical Kirsty O’Regan and student, first-year apprentice Ellen Little, have encouraged young women on International Women’s Day (8 March), to consider a career in the trades industry.

Kirsty, who has been a teacher with CQU VET for 18 years said she too started off as an apprentice when it wasn’t common for women to do so.

“It wasn’t a common choice, back when I decided I was interested in a trade area, but my parents were very supportive,” Kirsty said.

“My dad’s a boilermaker by trade. My mum’s a homemaker. They were very supportive and it’s something that I’ve found extremely fulfilling.

“I’ve always been interested in working with my hands. I like to be active. I like things that make me think and I found that the trade areas you’re always active.”

She said she first started her apprenticeship in the mining industry.

“I worked on drag lines and wash plants. A lot of control panel work. Then as I went through my career I worked in commercial and domestic, so I’ve had a large amount of experience in different areas,” she said.

“I must admit I really enjoyed the heavy industrial because they get a lot of new technology that comes through, so it’s always very interesting.

“Electrical is a growing area and there’s always new technology that’s coming on board so you’re always thinking, learning. So those are the things that appeal to me (about trades).

In 2020, Kirsty’s passion for her trade was recognised when she was nominated in the VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year category of the Central Queensland Regional Queensland Training Awards.

Kirsty said today it was more widely accepted for females to take up a trade apprenticeship.

“You’ll see females in most classes that we run these days and a large majority of employers will employ female apprentices,” she said.

“The electrical area is one of those really good areas for females because it’s not a lot of heavy work. I find most females are fairly detail orientated. Females will also look at something and say ‘that’s aesthetically pleasing’ and they will lay out a job in a way that will appeal to the customer.”

Ellen Little, first-year apprentice at BMA’s Broadmeadow Mine, said her training has been very interesting and challenging.

“I feel like I am learning a lot which is what I’m here for. My dad works in the electrical industry and a family friend works at the mine and this opportunity came up and yeah, I was getting a bit tired of working in an office all day every day and I thought I would give this a go and I found that I really like it,” she said.

Ellen encouraged other young women to give it a go too.

“(The trade) just challenges you which is good. There’s always something new. You can work with your hands and get out and about. It’s a lot better (career),” she said.