Transgrid launches pre-apprenticeship program for women

Transgrid's Chelsie Webster (pre-apprenticeship)
Transgrid's Chelsie Webster

Transgrid has launched a pre-apprenticeship program in electrical trades that is solely for women as part of its commitment to increase diversity in the energy industry.

Applications are now open for the seven-week, three-subject course that can be used as a credit towards a Certificate III in Electrotechnology—Electrician.

“Women represent only one percent of the trades in construction and engineering. There is a whole talent pool not being accessed, because of historical barriers and a lack of opportunities for a woman to consider a trade as a career,” Transgrid education program coordinator Glen Davis says.

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“At Transgrid, women comprise a third of the apprenticeship pool, so we are better than industry standard. But we want to enable a diverse workplace. By offering a female-only pre-apprenticeship we will further remove barriers that exist for female participation.”

Run in conjunction with Belmont TAFE, the Transgrid pre-apprenticeship program was first conceived of by Transgrid substation technician Chelsie Webster, who says that the pre-apprentice program will give a participant “a glimpse of what you will be doing on the job—enough to decide whether it’s the right career for you.”

Webster suggested the program to Transgrid because it was how she successfully became an apprentice with the company.

“After applying for an apprenticeship for two years in a row at a number of organisations, and failing to achieve a place, I nearly gave up. By completing a pre-apprenticeship program at Port Macquarie TAFE, I made myself more desirable to employers, as well as confirming it was the right career path for me,” she explains.

“I pitched the idea of a pre-apprenticeship program for women to Transgrid’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. They, and the senior leadership team, were excited about the idea.”

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Sixteen places are available for the first Transgrid pre-apprentice program, with women aged from 16 years encouraged to apply.

Kailee Standen started with Transgrid from year 10 as an apprentice and now manages a team of 27 people as apprentice lead.

“The pre-apprenticeship program will give women a head start with TAFE and they can see what a trade will be like and, hopefully, more women will realise that a trade in this industry may be the start of a career you want for the rest of your life,” Standen says.

“I wish that a course like this was available when I first left school. However, I am proud that Transgrid is offering it now.”