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More than 100 high school students Try a Trade at CIT

Published: 17 Aug 2023

The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) is encouraging and supporting more women to engage in trade qualifications, opening its doors last week for more than 100 high school students from Canberra to sample hands-on experience in building and construction as part of the Try a Trade event.

The students from five Canberra high schools have been taking part in the inaugural Understanding Building and Construction Program, an initiative supported by the ACT Government to boost career pathways for women in the building and construction industry.

The students from Harrison School, Mount Stromlo High School, Alfred Deakin High School, Calwell High School and Melba Copland Secondary School were guided through some hands-on learning activities at CIT Bruce Campus, covering carpentry, landscaping, concreting, tiling, painting, plastering and brick laying.

It is estimated 13% of Australia's construction industry workforce are women, although less than three per cent work directly in the building and construction trades.

The CIT has seen a rise in women enrolling in these trades over the past five years, and CIT Interim CEO Christine Robertson said a collective approach from education, government and industry was important to continue addressing the under-representation of women in trades.

Ms Robertson credited the ACT Education Directorate, ACT Office for Women and National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) for introducing young women to more potential career pathways through the Understanding Building and Construction Program.

"It's encouraging to see an increase in women enrolling in building and construction trade qualifications at CIT, but women still make up only about 5% of our total students in these trades," Ms Robertson said.

"Australia faces a skills shortage, these trades are in demand, and CIT is consistently engaging with education and industry to expand the training and career opportunities for more women in building and construction.

"We're collaborating with industry to offer women in construction scholarships. The new CIT Woden Campus being built in Woden is a real working example of progress, setting a target of 15% women in the design and construction process.

"A day like Try a Trade is important to show young women what's possible, and CIT would be excited to see some of these high school students progressing to training and apprenticeships at CIT."

The students participating in the Try a Trade event have also been supported by CIT to undertake white card qualifications in areas such as asbestos awareness and silica prevention.

CIT Head of Construction Keith Brown said programs like Try a Trade are powerful opportunities for education and change.

"These students have chosen to be curious, to be bold and to choose what is currently considered an alternative career path. This is how we drive change," Mr Brown said.

"Trade skills are enduring and transferrable. Working with tools, troubleshooting, problem-solving and adapting to new situations are invaluable traits applicable across various industries."

Prospective students can discover more about CIT's courses, including building and construction trades, at