On Tuesday 17 May, a wonderfully enthusiastic and inquisitive group of students across Years 9-12 made their way to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Answering a call out to learn more about the opportunities for young women in trades and technology, they were excited, although a little apprehensive, about what the Expo would offer. Promising to showcase employment options within the trades and tech industries, with interactive displays to experience what these careers could be, the expo did not disappoint with students climbing into forklifts and heavy haul trucks, donning virtual reality headsets to explore the inner workings of elevator shafts, trying their hand at bricklaying, virtual welding, lock-picking and pipe assembly and exploring robotics and mechanical systems in motorbikes.
Students took up the chance to attend panel discussions with a range of engaging and passionate speakers keen to share their experiences and advice and listened intently to the exhibitors offering information and opportunities within their industry and workplace. Leaving with plenty of branded ‘loot’ including T-shirts, caps, pens, keyrings, show bags and even plants, it was a pleasure to hear students sharing their newfound insights, comparing their expo experiences and naming their preferred trade and tech industries. Reflecting on their experience, students shared the following:
“Talking with people that have similar interests to me like the women in the STEM booth was very interesting as I got to hear all about their personal stories and journeys.”
“There are a lot of different jobs out there that are worth exploring.”
“One presenter encouraged us not to be scared or put off because these are such male-dominated fields. I feel like that really stuck with me.”
“I enjoyed the plumbing activity where you had to assemble some pipes as fast as you could in order to win a cool prize.”
Students who attended the Expo are now exploring possible VET courses to incorporate into their senior school program which will allow them to start building their technical knowledge and skills whilst gaining a recognised qualification. These include programs such as electrotechnology, automotive, building and construction and IT. They were introduced to the idea of apprenticeships and traineeships as viable post-school options and all students left the expo with a sense of wonder and excitement at just what their future might hold.