NEW SKILLS: South Grafton High School students Kira Grant and Karlie Chevalley learn how to use power tools during a SALT women in trade workshop held at the school on Wednesday. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY
NEW SKILLS: South Grafton High School students Kira Grant and Karlie Chevalley learn how to use power tools during a SALT women in trade workshop held at the school on Wednesday. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY

Trading places

SWAPPING the classroom for a makeshift timber workshop, South Grafton High students Karlie Chevalley and Kira Grant are quick to pick up new skills as well as confidence using power tools.

While the Year 9 classmates said they were yet to decide on a career path, both were excited to take part in a touring SALT Bush Workshop held at their school on Wednesday.

"It's been very interesting to use tools we've never been comfortable using before," said Kira as she took time out of assembling her timber cutlery caddy.

"Most of all, it's been fun," said Karlie.

And even if becoming a chippie isn't on the cards, both girls agree that knowing their way around tools is a great life skill.

The Supporting And Linking Tradeswomen (SALT) Skill Women Workshops are designed to give women of all ages experience in using basic hand tools and small power tools.

The SALT Bush Tour gives rural NSW schools, TAFEs and local groups the opportunity to work with tradeswomen in a mobile workshop.

All materials and tools are provided, with one-on-one support for power tool use.

SALT workshop tours are aimed at encouraging girls and women of all ages to consider a trade as a career option, especially in rural areas.

SALT president Fi Shewring is one of five tradeswomen touring regional NSW this week, bringing the program to several schools and even preschools.

She said the skills taught at the workshops were useful for everyone, even if the participant did not plan on being a tradie.

"Knowing how to use tools gives women independence and increases their self-esteem, but the main aim is increasing the number of women going into trades," Ms Shewring said.

"Currently most women don't think of it as an option, but if we can make it easier for another woman or girl to get into a trade, then that's great."

Ms Shewring is a qualified painter and decorator as well as a mum of five.

She started her apprenticeship when her youngest child turned three, almost 20 years ago.

SALT WORKSHOPS

 The latest figures reveal only 1.7% of non-traditional tradies are women

 Participation rates have fallen since the 1980s when women made up 4.5% of tradespeople

 To request a SALT Bush Workshop for your school or organisation, visit http://www.saltaustralia.org.



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