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Mel Ransley isn’t just building homes, or her own career. She’s building the careers and lives of others as a coach at Build Up Tassie, a Centacare Evolve Housing program that gets young people facing barriers to employment into the construction industry.

The budding tradies go from an in-house training centre, to external work placements, to an apprenticeship or trainee position at social enterprise St Joseph Affordable Homes. Mel says the individualised coaching her team gives the whole way through is the key to the program’s success.

“It is insane. You see them from day one, some of them hardly being able to hold a conversation or make eye contact, to seeing them into full time employment. And having conversations with payroll and doing all these adult things and you’re like, wow!”

Building inclusivity

When Mel started her own career journey she was initially drawn to architecture, but decided to complete a carpentry apprenticeship with Fairbrother first – where she won the Master Builders Association National Apprentice of the Year award. She became a site foreperson while studying a Bachelor of Education, then did her Cert IV in Training and Assessment.

“And that’s when this job came along, which was something unpredictable and unheard of, which fits me to a tee!”

Mel says one of the most challenging things about nurturing more female apprentices is to support them, without singling them out.

That’s the goal of the Centacare Women in Construction project Mel’s currently working on.

“We’re putting a really strong focus on building this company into an inclusive place for women. And we’re doing that by being more inclusive and supportive of everyone.”

Building flexibility

Mel says another focus is “more flexible hours, flexible leave, flexible people, flexible everything”.

“One of the common trends you see is women starting in construction, and then they want to start a family, and typically management roles do require those full time or full time-plus hours.

“It’s tradition to work seven till five, but people have school drop offs, they’ve got family commitments, they might want to cook dinner before 8pm. And that doesn’t just go for Mum either. How good would it be if Dad could go to a school assembly? Or do school pick-up? Or drop kids off in the morning?”

While Mel has noticed a cultural shift in the construction industry, she’s excited to coach more women to be the change they want to see.

You can’t go wrong with a job in building. Once you’ve got a trade, the possibilities are endless. I only started my apprenticeship in the last decade and it has already changed so drastically, so it’s really, really nice to be a part of that.
Keystone Tasmania
Keystone Tasmania is the peak organisation facilitating building and construction industry workforce development in Tasmania.
We acknowledge the palawa people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we learn and work. We honour their enduring culture and knowledges as vital to the self-determination, wellbeing and resilience of their communities.

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