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In the six months to 30 June 2014, there were over 3,600 course enrolments by women in non-traditional trades

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Making it happen”. This is an appropriate theme for an organisation such as TAFE NSW, which has been focused on achieving practical outcomes for its students for over 120 years.

TAFE NSW has a proud record of gender equality and providing opportunities for women. This is a natural fit with our core value of accessible quality education and training for everyone.

There are many ways in which TAFE NSW today is making it happen for gender equality.

The ‘Women of Aviation Day’ is an exciting opportunity for women to consider a career as a pilot. Being held tomorrow, Saturday 7 March, at Bankstown Airport, the event provides flight training for the Diploma of Aviation and is hosted by Sydney Flight College, in partnership with Sydney TAFE. Initiatives like this aim to encourage more women into the traditionally male-dominated industry.

Another example is Women in Trade Readiness. This five-day program, coordinated by South Western Sydney Institute (SWSi) in a number of trade areas throughout 2014, offered young women the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a trade. The program was part of an agreement between SWSi and Women NSW (part of the Department of Family and Community Services) and covered many traditionally male-dominated areas such as plumbing, bricklaying, automotive and metal engineering.

On International Women’s Day last year, TAFE NSW announced a number of new fully-funded enrolled nursing scholarships for indigenous women. We currently have six women working their way towards successful completion. There’s no underestimating the life-changing opportunity that these scholarships represent for their recipients.

A review of the TAFE NSW enrolment figures over recent years shows that our organisation’s long track record of gender equality continues to grow. For example, between 2009 and 2013 total enrolments by women at and above the Certificate III level increased by 45 per cent, while enrolments by women at and above the Diploma level increased by 74 per cent. In the six months to 30 June 2014, there were over 3,600 course enrolments by women in non-traditional trades, including in such diverse areas as building and construction, firefighting, boilermaking and heavy vehicle operations.

In societies today, across the globe, a lack of access to education is the starting point for many different forms of inequality. As a leading provider of vocational education and training, TAFE NSW plays a crucial role in supporting women to break new ground both personally and professionally, across NSW and beyond.

Happy International Women’s Day 2015.

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