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Trades still good option

Construction apprentice Paris Ternent-James. PHOTO/FILE

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A Wairarapa woman is encouraging others to look for a career in the trades, despite a New Zealand survey finding that female tradies are the worst affected by a growing gender pay-gap.

Paris Ternent-James is one of the few female Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation carpentry apprentices in the region.

The 22-year-old is completing a national certificate in carpentry, working with MB Brown Ltd on the new Tumu ITM site on Ngaumutawa Rd.

A survey of 10,000 workers in the industrial, trade, manufacturing, logistics, hospitality and commercial service sectors by recruitment firm One Staff, found that women were under-represented and paid less in nearly all industries surveyed.

It found that female tradies were on average earning 20 per cent [or $5 an hour] less than the overall median rate of $25 per hour.

Ternent-James said women deserved to be paid the same as their male counterparts for equal work.

“I feel if a female is as good as a male then she deserves to be paid the same.”

More than 18 months into her course she said it was hugely rewarding but a lot of hard work and at times lonely being the only woman in the company.

“My experience has been largely positive.”

She said the men on her team were “good guys” and she enjoyed working with them but found that it could be a bit lonely at times.

“At times I feel a bit lonely being surrounded by men. Sometimes it would be nice to have more female company.”

She said a woman needed a “certain kind of strength” to get involved in the male-dominated construction industry.

“It’s not common because it’s always been a man’s job.”

Ternent-James got into the industry after being exposed to woodwork and hard technology in her later years at high school and would like to see more done to encourage younger female students into the subjects.

Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation training adviser Peter Van der Veen said he hoped more targeted education initiatives would help encourage women into the industry

“There’s still a bit of a myth about women not being strong enough for construction and rubbish like that.”

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