Written by Jobs Fraser Coast
Plenty has changed for women in work and study over the years.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that, as recently as the 1950s and 1960s, many of our grandmothers were expected to permanently give up their jobs when they got engaged, married or fell pregnant.
Those same young women grew up in a time when females comprised about a fifth of Australian university students. According to the latest Census data, they now make up almost 60%.
Despite all that positive change in a relatively short period, the pace of change at home has been rather slower – and it continues to be a barrier for some women getting a solid employment foothold.
But an innovative new jobs expo is trying to address that, through showcasing local opportunities and skill shortages, challenging traditional employment perceptions and giving people real-world, hands-on insights into what working in a range of sectors is really like.
The Fraser Coast Industry & Careers Showcase, being staged at the Maryborough Showgrounds on October 12, also aims to connect jobseekers with training and education organisations who can help them get on the path to a job that fits – even if it’s something they may not have considered before.
One of those flying the flag for the employment and training sector will be TAFE Queensland jobseeker training officer Gillian Rimmer, whose role involves connecting people to skill shortages and accessing available funding to help them get a qualification.
“For me the showcase is about the collaboration – working for that one goal of getting people employed and helping our region to grow,” said Gill, who’s worked in the job sector for 22 years.
“For women, there are still some particular challenges. Many have to balance work around family more than men do, and may need to do work or access training that can fit around school or childcare hours.
“But there are also some really good opportunities. There’s been a growing emphasis on non-traditional trades for women, and there are also a lot more roles available that tend to suit women, such as aged and disability care support work, due to increases in NDIS funding.”
Gill is keen to encourage women of all ages and stages to consider non-traditional roles.
“With the huge growth in manufacturing across Maryborough, we’re going to need more women in those sectors,” she said.
“And there are some great local companies and organisations like Downer, DTM, Hyne Timber and the forest and timber industry in general, who are being proactive about that and who are really conscious of the positive workplace culture changes women can bring.”
One group hoping to take advantage of the appetite for change is the Zonta Club of Hervey Bay Inc, which is trialing a project called Women and Careers, in partnership with a range of other community and job-ready organisations.
Secretary Robin Rayner said the project not only aimed to address skill shortages, but also to identify barriers and enablers for women to access the many opportunities available.
“At the showcase, we want to take along the women on our program and get them engaged and open to the possibilities,” Robin said.
“We also want to see women considering a career change. Maybe they’re the checkout person at Woolies and they didn’t realise they could have a good career at a local timber firm instead, for example.
“There’s a view that if you can change a woman, you can change a society. Women are carers, mothers, role models – their children see what they do and it sets an example, so it can have a broad and inter-generational impact.”
The Fraser Coast Industry & Careers Showcase will run from 1pm-6pm at Maryborough Showgrounds on October 12. For more information, visit http://www.jobsfrasercoast.com.au/industry-showcase, or follow @JobsFraserCoast on Facebook for regular event and job updates.