With its proven success, The Girls In Trades Expo returned for a third year running to Murihiku Southland. Masterlink Lower South Island Regional Manager Raewyn Meharg and third-year MasterLink apprentice Georgia Simeon attended the action-packed day on a mission to inspire.

Run by Great South’s Southland Youth Futures programme, Girls in Trades gives Year 11 and 12 tamawāhine an opportunity to learn more about entering a career in the typically male-dominated construction industry.

Students were able to get hands-on with interactive activities hosted by trades employers. Among the 13 activity stations was a plumbing challenge, where students competed in teams to create a set shape with pipework and fittings in the fastest time.

Having kitted out the Masterlink stand with flyers, prizes and a cheeky row of rubber ducks, Rae spent the day chatting with students about the rewards of a plumbing, drainlaying and gasfitting apprenticeship.

Georgia at Girls In Trades 2
Georgia prepares students to compete in the pipe challenge

“This was my first time experiencing anything like this and I I had a wonderful time,” says Rae. “The students were so happy and wanted to know everything!.”

Rae says a lot of students have no idea what they want to do when they finish school.

Attending something as big as this really opens their minds and gets them thinking they can do a trade if they put their minds to it.

- Rae Meharg

For the second year in a row, MasterLink apprentice Georgia Simeon spoke on the panel at the event. She was joined by a group of other young female tradies, including a cyclic labourer, industrial electrician and an apprentice builder.

Great South Girls In Trades
Georgia (left) alongside this year's panellists

“The turnout was really good,” says Georgia. “A lot more girls seemed interested and asked more questions – and we gave genuine, honest answers,” she says.

Georgia believes it is important students know the construction trades welcome people no matter their gender.

"The expo is a great opportunity to show a female perspective and also give girls a chance to try out and learn about all the trades,” she says. “A couple of girls came and asked me questions, and I let them know that anyone can join a trade if they want to.”

We look forward to seeing even more girls at next year's event, as the word gets out about the benefits of a trades career.