Kiarra Ruttley, First Year Electrical Apprentice, says some people expressed shock when she resigned from her café job to become an electrician. One response was, ‘I wouldn’t have picked a girl to do that’. Far from balking, Kiarra tells people, ‘The workforce is trying to move towards creating a workplace reflective of the Australian population. Why not put yourself out there and defy the odds?’
The odds are certainly ripe to be balanced. Less than two per cent of electro-technology trade workers in NSW are female and less than a quarter of Australians working in utilities are female.
Encouragingly, there are positive numbers too. Kiarra joins a majority-female group in the 2018 apprentice intake at TransGrid.
“When I got the apprenticeship at TransGrid, my dad and uncle were really happy. Dad had been giving me job applications left, right and centre for a whole heap of trades,” says Kiarra.
“For me, the idea of going to university was really ‘iffy’. I deferred my uni offer to see if I could pick up a full-time job. When I left school I didn’t know which path to take, but I did want a maths-based job.
Hiring the best apprentices is vital for Colin Mayer, TransGrid Manager Field Resources.
“Gender certainly doesn’t influence how we assess the applicants. A willingness to learn, work hard, and respect safety in the workplace is what we look for in apprentices,” says Colin.
“We focus on creating an inclusive workplace that leverages diversity in its people to do great work.”
Apprentices: Jessica Bright; Ineke Johnston; and Kiarra Ruttley.
Ineke Johnston was 15 when she first considered a trade. Initially talked out of pursuing a ‘boys’ job’, it took a stint at uni to put Ineke on the path to securing her place in the apprentice program.
“I’d rather be out there working with my hands, learning to put my theoretical knowledge into practice,” says Ineke.
Fellow apprentice, Jessica Bright, was also on a university path before joining the TransGrid apprentice program.
“I was about 18 months into a psychology degree, but it just it wasn’t my learning style. I went back home and got all my facts together. I asked myself, ‘What am I good at? What are my strengths?’,” says Jessica.
“I’ve always been hands-on. I’ve always liked riding motorbikes and fixing things with Dad. I’d always watch him working on things around the house. No one was really surprised when I took this path.”
“My family and friends are really proud, because for me this is my career start.”
"Ineke’s advice to girls considering a technical apprenticeship?
“Definitely do it. Give it a go. Know that you’ve worked hard to get where you already are.”
Joining their female colleagues in the TransGrid apprenticeship program are Brian Chapman and Thomas Lane. We wish the apprentices every success as they progress through the program.
2019 Apprentice intake
Applications for the 2019 apprentice intake open in May 2018. For information about the program, visit the Apprenticeships
page of the TransGrid website.