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Why I started a non-profit organisation called TradeUP Australia

15-Oct-2015

In January 2014 I started TradeUp Australia – a volunteer based non-profit organisation that aims to encourage more women to see skilled trades as a viable career option.


By promoting ourselves as role models, young people can see tradeswomen who love what they do. We also provide a mentoring service for women who may be feeling a little isolated in the workplace.

Based in my home town of Perth, the success and growth of TradeUP Australia has been unbelievable. In less than a year, we have had more than 200 people contact us about volunteering or participating in a workshop, although we are still looking for more male and female volunteers and mentors who have trade backgrounds in Perth.

We have held monthly workshops where females with no experience are being empowered to be practically independent. One of the highlights has been receiving emails from people who have attended a workshop, with photographs of things they have built at home, just because I taught them how to use a drill. It is really powerful and makes us realise that TradeUP Australia is having a great impact.

Another important moment for us has been setting up the TradeUP Australia board – which is made up of both females and males, from trades and professional backgrounds – and is united in the pursuit of our goals.

2014 has almost been like a pilot year – and while there are always teething problems – it has been a great success. We have also partnered with a local training provider to help run their Certificate II pre-apprenticeship course in construction – for females only. It can be intimidating for women to undertake a trade, particularly when you are the only female in the class – and hopefully this initiative will help.

For me personally, it is an exciting time.

After completing my Australian Apprenticeship last year I have progressed from an electrician to specialising in lighting control where I have been able to program some extremely cool lighting in the Perth skyline at night. My career is taking off at the same rate TradeUP Australia is!

If you asked me what the defining moment for TradeUp Australia has been – I would have to say day one at the 2014WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Perth. For us to be in front of the 40,000 people who attend over three days is massive. While many of the attendees are here with school, they might walk past and realise ‘that’s Sarah Jayne and she is an electrician’. Maybe it results in people talking to their sisters, nieces and daughters and saying ‘I met Sarah Jayne the other day and she is an electrician, you are quite practical, have you ever considered a trade?’

If we can change a few mindsets and make people realise that trades are an option for females, it has been well worth it.

Sarah Jayne Flatters is an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government. She is also a director of TradeUP Australia and was a participant in Group Training Australia’s 2013 Today’s Skills: Tomorrow’s Leaders Program.