Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are being helped to retrain for construction-based jobs.

Construction is the equal third-highest industry for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment in the country, but according to the ABS, only 10% of those jobs are going to women.

The Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES), Australia’s largest recruitment service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, has taken up the challenge. AES is training Aboriginal women through its intensive pre-employment programs such as iCivil, iTradies and iTraffic.

Over 100 women have completed the courses in the past 12 months, of these 75 have gone on to secure full-time careers in the construction industry and a further 20 have secured casual employment on major project sites around Sydney.

Wiradjuri sisters Tara and Tarni Proberts-Roberts have both completed AES traineeships. Born and raised in Dubbo, and now living in Sydney, both women held full-time positions in the childcare industry for over six years before finding themselves at career crossroads and taking the leap into construction.

Tara was 28 when she made the shift and was so successful that she was named the 2018 Trainee of the Year in the NSW Training Awards, and is currently working on the Westconnex M5 project. “Being recognised as doing well in my career and studies helped cement the fact I’ve made a good choice in my career change,” says Tara.

Tarni followed her sister into an AES traineeship and is now working at Lendlease Crown Resorts, Barangaroo, as a Procurement Advisor. She also received the inaugural Les Tobler Program Excellence Award at the 2018 AES graduation.

“To see a project from start through to finish is amazing,” she says of the career move. “The amount of new skills and information you’ll receive is huge! All you have to do is take a leap of faith outside your comfort zone.”

AES has plans to increase the number of women in their construction courses and is also looking to even the gender balance in other industries.

For more, or to find out how you can employ AES trainees and graduates, visit www.aes.org.au.

Image: Tara (left) and Tarni Proberts-Roberts both retrained for construction.