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Nick Davies is a Director and Southern Operations Manager at contracting company RBD Electrical. Operating statewide, the business has around 100 employees covering commercial, industrial and utilities clients.

About five years ago RBD began actively recruiting more apprentices to build up their employee pipeline. And they’ve noticed a shift.

Early career advice

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in applications from females in the last probably two to three years. Prior to that, you would not get many.

I think the uptake of more people applying for apprenticeships comes from being better educated in schools. It’s all about educating people about what the career path looks like, supporting them and helping them find the spot they want to be in.”

Better dynamics

About 10% of RBD Electrical’s trade workforce is female. When the first women came on board, Nick says he was mindful of changing workforce dynamics.

“We need to embrace this, and we need to advocate that women should consider entering the trade if they want to.

We haven’t had any issues. If anything, the dynamic and culture of our workforce has improved very much from having females on board. Just from having a different way of thinking, different ideas. And having that diversity has certainly helped build the culture of our team.”

Best person for the job

Nick says new apprentices are carefully vetted to fit the company culture. He says aspiring female apprentices needn’t worry about their physicality or practical skill level coming into the job.

“We are really focused on workplace safety and you don’t have to lift heavy loads, you don’t have to be running around, we’ve got processes in place that do the lifting for you. It’s about planning your work. If you’ve got good character, you’ve been proactive in the way that you think about approaching a task, you’ll be smarter about it. Use your brains not your brawn.

My view is we hire on character, because we want people with a good attitude towards their work and we can build their competence. It’s easier to teach competence than character, managing people’s personalities is a lot harder than upskilling them.

We want all these people to be better than us one day. They want to learn all the good qualities from the trades and supervisors to be better tradespeople than we were, because that’s how our businesses is going to be sustainable and succeed.”

Having more women in trades provides us with a more diverse range of character and competence so we can choose the right staff for the work, playing to their strengths.
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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