SOUTHLAND Girls’ High School pupil Anisha Gillan has been interested in a trades career for about two years.
She was inspired by a conversation with her uncle, a qualified carpenter working in Australia, she said. Through the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation’s (BCITO’s) Gateway Programme, Anisha had this year been to Peter Excel Building Ltd every Tuesday for work experience.
Company owner-operator Peter Excel said it was a misconception the trades were men-only careers. Although Anisha was the first female pupil he’d taken on through the programme, his 12 male employees (one of whom was an apprentice who had already come through the Gateway Programme from Southland Boys’ High School) had “no issues at all” about it.
“Things are slowly changing. A painting crew we use have three or four girls painting for them now. Just the other day, Anisha was out there on the end of a shovel digging pile holes, which isn’t as easy as people think. She’s had many days in the rain [like everyone else].”
Anisha said working out in the weather was one factor she hadn’t fully considered to begin with, but the Gateway Programme had enabled her to experience this before committing to carpentry as a career path.
Working in heavy rain hadn’t dampened her enthusiasm, though, and she had been bought an all-weather jacket along with work boots through her school, she said.
Mr Excel said the idea that the trades were an option for less intelligent students was also wrong.
“We need the kids that are minimum level two NCEA, the kids who could go to varsity but who don’t want to. We need the kids that are brighter, but enthusiastic [about joining the trades] and who want to strive and work.”