Since Supporting And Linking Tradeswomen (SALT) started in 2009, it has become slightly easier for women to gain apprenticeships, but we still have a long way to go until there are equal opportunities for women in the trades. SALT is a non-profit incorporated organization, which began to provide a support network for tradeswomen, apprentices and women who wish to enter the trades.
The aims of SALT are:
- Providing support and mentoring to tradeswomen in Australia including apprentices and women seeking to work in the trades.
- Providing avenues for women to meet other tradeswomen, apprentices and others to share experiences.
- Promoting women in the trades to the general public and industry.
- Advocating for change to attitudes to women working in the trades.
- Campaigning for changes which enable women to train and work in the trades.
- Promoting diversity and acceptance for all people in the trades,
The aims have been delivered with great success via a number of initiatives which are very action based and which are designed to be practical and engender social change in the way women view themselves and the way society views women.
Since we began we have run over 200 SkillWomen Workshops with almost 10,000 participants across five states of Australia; New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The SkillWomen Workshops teach women and girls in high schools, primary schools and communities how to use tools with our unique mobile workshop. We can set up in any area which is large enough, has one source of power and is undercover. These workshops have always been very low cost or free for participants and women from the ages of 96 right down to little girls of 2 years have enjoyed learning how to use tools. Our workshops have been empowering for women from very diverse backgrounds including domestic violence, multicultural and indigenous communities.
We have given talks in about 160 schools regarding making positive career choices which will enable women to earn reasonable wages to support themselves and their families. We have worked with multiple organisations and taken teams of tradeswomen and men who voluntarily worked to help farmers in drought areas. We have also worked with Government departments such as Department of Education (Federal and States), Women NSW and Office for Women (Federal and State) plus major trade orientated companies and peak bodies such as South Australia Power Network, NECA, WestTrac CAT, BlueScope, Schindler, Essential Energy, Sydney Trains, Master Plumbers, Master Builders, Master Painters and Master Electricians regarding policies and initiatives to employ women in trades.
SALT represents many different trades and we have always encouraged women and men to be involved. We believe this is the way forward to reach our goals of men and women working together, more acceptance of diversity in the trades and gender parity.
Currently we provide our membership with monthly meetings in Wollongong and Sydney (two meeting groups), Albury (all NSW) Canberra (ACT), Adelaide (South Australia), Perth (Western Australia) and South-East Queensland. Newsletters are sent out twice a year. We use social media extensively with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter posts almost every day. We also provide support and contacts plus information to women seeking work in the trades, such as resume reviews and advise on applying for jobs and apprenticeships. Operations and leadership is run by a small amount of paid staff and a passionate number of volunteers all of whom are committed to increasing diversity in our trades and bridging the gap to a gender accepting, skilled workforce in Australia.